Be Encouraged

Dave · May 28, 2009 at 1:07 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

How quickly the organization can turn into a winner essentially lies in the ability of our front office to identify and acquire talent from outside the organization, because there isn’t enough quality on hand that the team can just wait for it to develop and turn into a championship level club. How has our new regime done so far in evaluating talent and bringing it into the organization?

Russ Branyan, +1.7 wins, #1 among position players
Franklin Gutierrez, +1.0 wins, #3 among position players
Endy Chavez, +0.3 wins, #4 among position players
Ken Griffey Jr, +0.2 wins, #5 among position players
Mike Sweeney, -0.2 wins, #11 among position players
Ronny Cedeno, -0.2 wins, #12 among position players

David Aardsma, +0.6 wins, #1 among relief pitchers
Jason Vargas, +0.2 wins, #5 among starting pitchers
Garrett Olson, -0.1 win, #6 among starting pitchers

Among the players on the major league roster that were acquired since Zduriencik and crew took over, the M’s essentially filled six roster spots – CF, 1B, DH, High Leverage Reliever, Utility Infielder, 1/2 LF, 1/2 SP – and gotten +3.8 wins from those spots. The other 19 roster spots that were filled by players that were already in the organization when Zduriencik was hired have combined for +4.0 wins.

Zduriencik’s guys have gotten about 20% of the playing time and accumulated about 50% of the team’s win values.

I think he’s pretty good at this spotting talent thing.

Comments

47 Responses to “Be Encouraged”

  1. smatbte51 on May 28th, 2009 1:14 pm

    What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time I didn’t think this team was ever going to win again. A year later and my hopes could not be higher for what the future holds under GMZ.

    I’m really looking forward to the draft to watch him work his magic.

  2. diderot on May 28th, 2009 1:30 pm

    I think he’s pretty good at this spotting talent thing.

    Dave, thanks for this.

    For all the excellent things this site represents, I’m frequently pained by comments that suggest, ‘I hope the front office understands…’, or, ‘I don’t understand why they…’.

    Questioning is fine. But I think we’ve got to just accept the fact that these guys know how to judge talent, and know even more about prospects than all of us here.

  3. greymstreet on May 28th, 2009 1:42 pm

    How about Cedeno?

  4. Russ on May 28th, 2009 1:46 pm

    Dave, nicely done. That is an interesting angle to look at where we could go with Z.

    If this teams starts calling up young guys and trading off pieces to bring in more players at Z sees as a part of the puzzle; this will make watching the season unfold more interesting.

  5. Mike Snow on May 28th, 2009 1:53 pm

    How about Cedeno?

    I’ve tossed him in there. For what it’s worth, the combined -0.3 WAR for Cedeno and Olson equals the -0.3 WAR Heilman has given the Cubs.

  6. HerseyChris on May 28th, 2009 1:54 pm

    What’s even more impressive is that he didn’t spend much money to get these guys. Granted, Gutz cost us Putz, but Aardsma, Putz’s replacement, didn’t really cost the M’s anything.
    Z’s eye for spotting talent in the free agent pool and trade market makes me even more excited to see what he can do in the upcoming draft.

  7. Alex on May 28th, 2009 1:57 pm

    I love this summary. I also love that we gave up practically nothing for most of these guys, and the others are a result of the Putz trade. Putz was an overvalued commodity, and at worst we are getting as many wins back this year in the players we got back, as we gave up by trading him.

    So far its been a half a year and Zduriencik has overhauled about a third of the roster into players that are overperforming for the cost we paid for them (in $$ and in what we gave up to acquire them).

    Given the midyear trades that are coming and next offseason, he will probably be able to overhaul most of the roster into such players who are a good value, and allow us to compete next year.

    It is nice to be able to hope for the Mariners to make moves, knowing that the results are going to vary between ok and great, instead of between ok and disastrous. The anticipation of a great trade that builds our future is far better than the dread of what the team will do next to give away its assets.

  8. fiftyone on May 28th, 2009 2:12 pm

    Jack is a smart man, but let’s not kid ourselves: 1B and DH and our third and fourth OFers were black holes of epic failuredom last year and improvement was inevitable this year. That being said, I am pumped to see those wins skyrocket when he gets around to addressing the middle infield and the rotation. Even if we have to wait until the winter.

  9. shortbus on May 28th, 2009 2:27 pm

    Z gets an A from me so far. The jury is still out when it comes to spending money on free agents other teams are actually bidding on. Nothing Z has done so far indicates he’ll be tossing the team’s money after high priced mediocrity, though.

    I wonder how the KJR crowd feels about the FO. Based solely on their record you’d think “These new guys are no better than Bavasi!” Hopefully Lincoln and Armstrong are smarter than the average sports-talk listener.

  10. The Ancient Mariner on May 28th, 2009 2:31 pm

    fiftyone: ahh, but he’s not comparing them to last year, he’s comparing them to the rest of the team.

  11. SoulofaCitizen on May 28th, 2009 2:52 pm

    I’m slightly confused by the rankings. Is this among all new players acquired in the majors last year by signing or trade?

    Is there a URL that shows those rankings?

  12. SoulofaCitizen on May 28th, 2009 2:54 pm

    And yes–I’m totally encouraged by the new directions as well…

  13. jephdood on May 28th, 2009 3:01 pm

    The only move by Z I’d question so far is the signing of Josh Fields. I would have just passed on going through with that Bavasi pick.

  14. The Ancient Mariner on May 28th, 2009 3:05 pm

    SoulofaCitizen: this is how they rank on this year’s M’s.

  15. joser on May 28th, 2009 3:06 pm

    Most patient hitters on the team (as measured by BB or BB/PA) in order: Griffey, Branyan, Gutierrez, Chavez. Those four guys together have walked 70 times (not counting Branyan’s 3 IBB); the rest of the starters (Lopez, Ichiro, Beltre, Betancourt, Balentien, Johnson, Johjima, Sweeney, Cedeno, Burke) combined have walked 53 times.

  16. Mike Snow on May 28th, 2009 3:23 pm

    Is there a URL that shows those rankings?

    Hitters

    Pitchers

  17. JMHawkins on May 28th, 2009 3:26 pm

    Regarding the Putz trade, (to recap, Putz, Sean Green and Jeremy Reed to the Mets, Joe Smith and Luis Valbuena to the Indians, Gutierrez,
    Vargas, Chaves, Heilmann, Carp and a couple others to the M’s, then Heilmann to the Cubs for Cedeno and Olson).

    Mets:
    Putz +0.2
    Reed +0.0
    Green -0.2
    TOTAL: + 0.0

    Indians:
    Smith + 0.1
    Valbuena -0.3
    TOTAL -0.2

    M’s':
    Gutierrez +1.0
    Vargas +0.2
    Chaves +0.3
    Cedeno -0.2
    Olson -0.1
    TOTAL: + 1.2 + Carp, Carrera (21yo lefthanded OF with a wOBA of .418 in AA)

    Jack is a smart man, but let’s not kid ourselves: 1B and DH and our third and fourth OFers were black holes of epic failuredom

    I agree that so far he’s only addressed the easy problems and the tasks ahead (the rotation, the middle infield, catcher) are significantly harder, but, we should, ah, be encouraged that our new GM might be able to tackle those challenges based on his excellent track record so far.

  18. dchappelle on May 28th, 2009 3:27 pm

    Or another way to look at it, these are the people that he traded or let sign away:
    Raul Ibanez, +2.9 wins
    Willie Boom Boom, +.2 wins
    J.J. Putz, +.2 wins
    Sean Green, -.2 wins
    Jeremy Reed, 0 wins
    Miguel Cairo, -.2 wins
    Aaron Heilman, -.3 wins (as a reliever no less)
    Luis Valbuena, -.3 wins

    Beyond Raul, there is nothing really lost, and you can’t really blame Z for that, since the M’s wouldn’t have spent that money anyways.

  19. SoulofaCitizen on May 28th, 2009 3:29 pm

    That is encouraging, and the contrast would even be starker if you included the salary comparison. Plus it doesn’t count the new players still in the minors.

  20. Breadbaker on May 28th, 2009 3:36 pm

    And the payment for Raul doesn’t come until the draft next month.

  21. Taylor H on May 28th, 2009 3:49 pm

    Excellent work. Imagine what Z could do when Wash and Batista’s contracts come off the books and he has some cash to spend….

  22. Mike Snow on May 28th, 2009 4:03 pm

    And the payment for Raul doesn’t come until the draft next month.

    Right, so all Zduriencik needs to do is come up with a couple 3-win players using the 27th and 33rd picks.

  23. TomTuttle on May 28th, 2009 4:06 pm

    Be Encouraged

    Okay. . .

    I will right after my next beer :)

  24. warning_track_power on May 28th, 2009 4:09 pm

    I hope Z’s encouraging OBP down on the farm. I am tired of the free-swinging hacks on the roster now.

  25. John S. on May 28th, 2009 4:24 pm

    Good analysis. Z’s short-term track record has been nothing short of outstanding. He may miss on a guy or two, but what GM doesn’t? And the longer-term view certainly looks more promising.

  26. Paul B on May 28th, 2009 4:27 pm

    Right, so all Zduriencik needs to do is come up with a couple 3-win players using the 27th and 33rd picks.

    Not sure if you are assuming Raul will be a +3 win player each year of his new contract?

  27. Mike Snow on May 28th, 2009 4:32 pm

    I’m not assuming much of anything, just being silly.

  28. chris d on May 28th, 2009 4:37 pm

    Taylor H

    Excellent work. Imagine what Z could do when Wash and Batista’s contracts come off the books and he has some cash to spend….

    I don’t think Z will be spending much money for FA. Certainly not for SP, OF, 1B, C or RP. Why would he want to purchase a “A” FA and lose a 1st round draft choice in the process ( a la Bavasi or other GM’s before). He is so good at acquiring SP like Vargas, etc. There are numerous 1B possibilities, DH (Clement), OF.

    Maybe a 3B or a SS or a 2B, but I don’t think it will be a high priced FA.

  29. Breadbaker on May 28th, 2009 4:42 pm

    Right, so all Zduriencik needs to do is come up with a couple 3-win players using the 27th and 33rd picks.

    He also has the $30 million not spent on Raul (minus whatever is paid to those picks) to pay for those wins, right?

  30. The Ancient Mariner on May 28th, 2009 4:45 pm

    JMH — you forgot Maikel Cleto.

  31. Bugeater on May 28th, 2009 4:46 pm

    I am so encouraged by what Jack Z. has done. A few minor misses perhaps, but no Bavasi-style whiffs—that’s for sure. The draft and the upcoming trading deadline will either cement him as a genius or have most of us longing for football season…I’m betting on the former myself.

  32. The Ancient Mariner on May 28th, 2009 5:11 pm

    “Longing for football season”? I’m a lot more optimistic about the M’s going forward than I am about the ‘Hawks.

  33. NBarnes on May 28th, 2009 5:12 pm

    I agree that so far he’s only addressed the easy problems and the tasks ahead (the rotation, the middle infield, catcher) are significantly harder, but, we should, ah, be encouraged that our new GM might be able to tackle those challenges based on his excellent track record so far.

    I think one of the most encouraging things is that he’s spent basically nothing on the DH, 1b, and bullpen problems. Very unlike Bavasi’s ‘throw a bunch of money at Sexson/Vidro/Everett/Putz’ big extension/Guardado because good 1bs, DHs, and bullpen arms are hard to find’ approach.

  34. NBarnes on May 28th, 2009 5:13 pm

    Further, the only real asset he spent this offseason, Putz, he spent on a CF and an SP (and Endy, whatever he is). When giving up real value, he made sure to get something worthwhile.

  35. decatur7 on May 28th, 2009 5:52 pm

    GMZ going to have ~$40 million coming off the books next year from Batista, Washburn, Bedard, and Beltre’s contracts’ expiring. I can’t imagine more than $10m of that will go towards arbitration and raises, so he’ll have, what, $30m to figure out how to spend for 2010. As I understand it, that money is seperate from the international signing budget, the draft budget, the operating costs budget, etc., so that the money goes back into the owners’ pockets if we don’t spend it. If that’s true, wouldn’t GMZ have to make some big Trades and/or FA signings to keep that money from disappearing into the owners’ pockets?

  36. SonOfZavaras on May 28th, 2009 5:59 pm

    Excellent post, Dave.

    I’ve had the feeling like my favorite team has been operating with a modicum of competence for a few months now. For the first time in years.

    Nice to see the numbers reflect that.

    Can’t wait for the draft.

    I’d bet money you’re right about us getting at least two college arms with high picks, and three if the Draft shakes the way I generally think it will.

  37. DMZ on May 28th, 2009 6:08 pm

    w/r/t

    that money is seperate from the international signing budget, the draft budget, the operating costs budget, etc.

    [sic]

    That depends on who you ask, and when. It’s very much unclear.

  38. JMHawkins on May 28th, 2009 6:19 pm

    JMH — you forgot Maikel Cleto

    Well, I remembered him, but haven’t heard anything about him since he got here, so didn’t want to make any hay out of the guy. Does anyone have an update on him? I know there was some excitement about potential upside.

    I don’t think Z will be spending much money for FA.

    Hmmm, I don’t think he’ll be stupidly spending money on FAs, but he might spend some on high-priced guys. He might need to. Keep in mind the following equation:

    75 – 8.5 + x = 90

    (the team looks like about a 75 win club right now. Bedard, Beltre, Junior and Washburn together – all we assume leaving by next year, are about 8 wins collectively. 90 wins is the target we’d like for a playoff contender).

    Solving for x = 23.5 wins need to be added to the roster. The impact spots to add them are:

    2B, 3B, SS, DH, plus 2-3 starting pitchers. Maybe C too (but then we need 24 wins ’cause Kenji is +0.5). 24 / 8 = 3 WAR per slot. +3.0 WAR guys ain’t cheap and you can only find so many looking under rocks (hello Russell and Franklin).

    Conclusion: some high-value FAs are needed, and we’ll have to pay for them. Fortunately, there should be money available and this FO should be expected to spend it wisely.

  39. ThundaPC on May 28th, 2009 7:07 pm

    Zduriencik has done an excellent job retooling the team given what he had to work with.

    It’s seriously a crying shame that some of the holdovers from the previous administration have been disasterous so far this year.

    - Russell Branyan has been worth 1.7 wins.

    - Russell Branyan, Jose Lopez, and Yuniesky Betancourt collectively have the same value this year as three replacement-level position players (combined 0.0 wins).

    Good Lord.

  40. smatbte51 on May 28th, 2009 8:22 pm

    (the team looks like about a 75 win club right now. Bedard, Beltre, Junior and Washburn together – all we assume leaving by next year, are about 8 wins collectively. 90 wins is the target we’d like for a playoff contender).

    Solving for x = 23.5 wins need to be added to the roster. The impact spots to add them are:

    2B, 3B, SS, DH, plus 2-3 starting pitchers. Maybe C too (but then we need 24 wins ’cause Kenji is +0.5). 24 / 8 = 3 WAR per slot. +3.0 WAR guys ain’t cheap and you can only find so many looking under rocks (hello Russell and Franklin).

    Conclusion: some high-value FAs are needed, and we’ll have to pay for them. Fortunately, there should be money available and this FO should be expected to spend it wisely.

    I agree with parts of this but I think it’s kind of unrealistic for us to expect GMZ to take a 75 win team, trade a lot of it’s best players (Bedard, Washburn, Junior, Beltre) and than go out in 2010 and win 90 games.

    I’m not going to claim to know that the FO long term plan is but from what I’ve heard they want to build a winner and keep it that way. Not win 90 games one year and only 70 the next. GMZ might spend some money this off season but he’ll have the cap space. I doubt we’ll see long term big contracts but more one or two year deals. He wanted Abreu this off season so that might be the type of players that he goes after this off season when he has the cap room.

  41. mark s on May 28th, 2009 8:42 pm

    It will be interesting to see what kind of trade Jack Z is able to do with good players like Bedard and Beltre instead of fill in players like Putz, Reed, Green, Valbuena.

  42. JMHawkins on May 28th, 2009 8:57 pm

    I agree with parts of this but I think it’s kind of unrealistic for us to expect GMZ to take a 75 win team, trade a lot of it’s best players (Bedard, Washburn, Junior, Beltre) and than go out in 2010 and win 90 games.

    Well, whether it’s 2010 or 2011 or 2012, 90 wins in what we need. The current farm system isn’t going to give us much to get there, it’ll have to come from something Z can scare up.

  43. Jeff Nye on May 28th, 2009 9:54 pm

    Where do people get this idea that you have to suck for several years in order for a meaningful rebuild to take place?

    An intelligent front office can keep the team competitive while still restocking good young talent to create sustained success, especially when they have a solid revenue stream like the Mariners do.

    Blowing up everything might be temporarily cathartic but it isn’t necessary.

  44. TranquilPsychosis on May 28th, 2009 10:05 pm

    How about Cedeno?

    The impression that I get from Dave’s post is that he is more looking at the positives. i.e. Rather than ripping the new GM for failing to make the team a Cinderella story, it’s more of a “well done” for starting to dig the M’s out of a pretty deep hole.

    So let’s take a few seconds and remember where our team was at this time last season…

    So now that we’ve all taken that short breath: Z has taken what he had to work with (Including the new salary constrictions) and turned this team into a ~74 win team. And without spending too much coin.

    Ask yourself (seriously) what will he be able to do with roughly 20m to spend in this next off season?

    Yes I know the actual dollars coming off are closer to 40m. But I’m figuring it at 1/2 to 2/3 to cover market variance.

  45. Breadbaker on May 29th, 2009 1:42 am

    It will be interesting to see what kind of trade Jack Z is able to do with good players like Bedard and Beltre instead of fill in players like Putz, Reed, Green, Valbuena.

    What you need to remember is that it’s not “Bedard” or “Beltre”, it’s four or fewer months of Bedard or Beltre, and in the former case, possibly with no compensation at all if he leaves as a free agent and in Beltre’s case, the tricks that were played last fall with draft picks will be fresh in GMs’ minds. So, barring a bidding war between two teams with stocked farm systems and a need for a lefty starter or a third basemen (not impossible), Zduriencik will have to make do with the reality of what he actually has to trade, which is quite different from trading someone with a reasonable longterm contract or many years of club control left.

    I expect him to do his best, but I think unrealistic expectations don’t help anyone.

  46. msb on May 29th, 2009 8:12 am

    Blowing up everything might be temporarily cathartic but it isn’t necessary.

    turns out, Branyan falls into the ‘compete this year’ camp (hasty paraphrase/transcription from the replay of yesterday’s interview)

    “in the near future this ballclub is going to turn it around and do some good things … I’m really on board with what they are doing here in Seattle, it reminds me of what happened in Tampa … cleaned out some guys from the big league level, brought up some young guys, and guys who buy into what they are trying to do … we’ve got some key players here, some great players here, we’re banged up a bit .. but a couple of key additions, bring in a player or two to accent what we have, we’re in a division right now, it is anybody’s division”

  47. SeasonTix on May 29th, 2009 11:40 am

    Ever since the USSM event back in Jan. when we got to meet Jack Z’s top assistants, I have felt very comfortable with the decision making on the team.

    It’s a shame that this will probably be one of the worst years ever to trade MLB players due to the belt-tightening by all teams and the new emphasis on hanging onto top young prospects.

    Still, I expect Jack Z and his team to do MUCH better than Bavasi would in ANY kind of market.

    I will never forgive Bavasi for trading away Adam Jones, that one hurts more and more every day.

    :-(

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.