Rotation comparison

Mike Snow · August 1, 2009 at 12:08 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The rotation that started 2008, with salaries:

Erik Bedard $7,000,000
Felix Hernandez $540,000
Carlos Silva $12,000,000
Jarrod Washburn $9,850,000
Miguel Batista, $9,000,000

I’m counting Silva’s signing bonus in the year he signed, if you’re wondering, since the three free agents all had contracts with a low(er) first-year salary number, then mostly level for the remaining years.

The current rotation, with salaries:

Felix Hernandez $3,800,000
Ian Snell $3,000,000
Ryan Rowland-Smith $420,000
Luke French $400,000
Jason Vargas $405,000

In case you need another illustration of why spending money on free agent pitchers is generally a bad idea – yes, the rotation now costs less combined than any of Silva, Batista, or Washburn did individually, and will perform just as well if not better. You wouldn’t equal any of their salaries even if you tack on Garrett Olson and Brandon Morrow to make fill-in starts as necessary. That’s a lot of money left over that can go toward (another bat/Ackley’s signing bonus/a long-term contract for Felix/resigning Beltre) whatever good use Zduriencik finds for it. Unfortunately, we’re still paying Silva and Batista. No, we shouldn’t try to sign Washburn again after the season.


85 Responses to “Rotation comparison”

  1. DMZ on August 1st, 2009 1:14 pm

    Nah, let’s not.

  2. Luc on August 1st, 2009 1:16 pm

    As opposed to $400k per start for Silva.

    More like:

    $3.5 million per start *
    $900k per inning pitched *
    $50k per strike thrown *

    * Cost estimates from memory. Didn’t look it up. If somebody would like to do the real math on that it might be entertaining depressing.

  3. diderot on August 1st, 2009 1:26 pm

    So how are we going to evaluate Wakamatsu and Zduriencik going forward? Would any of our evaluation be results based in terms of making the playoffs or not and until when do they give them? Let’s call it now.

    This is only slightly less ridiculous than judging a front office or manager on their abilities to win World Series. The players still have to play, and since the situation is perpetually dynamic, does it really make sense to predict or control what rival front offices and players are going to do? If you want to work in the realm of results-based analysis–particularly forward looking–have fun.

    Z has said repeatedly that his job is to look for ways to make the Mariners better every day. So far, I don’t see how you can give him less than an ‘A’.

  4. 300ZXNA on August 1st, 2009 1:27 pm

    My hope for Silva is that we can sign Beltre and Nick Johnson, trade Jose Lopez to a team like KC that might overvalue his skillset and find a top defender for 2b. Then, with an all world defense behind him and hopefully some lucky results we could dump him like we did Washburn (even though I’m sure we’d probably have to eat half of his remaining salary). One can dream . . .

  5. Luc on August 1st, 2009 1:27 pm

    Nevermind, did it myself. Silva will receive $12.25M this year according to ESPN. So, that means we will have paid him:

    $2.04M per game started
    $435K per inning pitched
    $12.25M per win
    $24K per pitch thrown

  6. 300ZXNA on August 1st, 2009 1:43 pm

    Let me guess, $12.25 mil is per win as in the pitching stat not WAR type wins . . . Now there’s a scary thought.

  7. scott19 on August 1st, 2009 1:49 pm

    @Luc –

    I was just kind of basing that initial figure on $12 mil/30 starts…or, at least trying to give Silva a little of the benefit of the doubt had he been able to make 30 scheduled starts this year at last year’s level of suckitude.

    In any event, you’re right…the costs of his roster spot have been staggering — and Zduriencik has already gotten more value out of the alternatives at a much lower cost.

  8. Jake N. on August 1st, 2009 1:49 pm

    I am very interested in finding out what kind of a pitcher this Ian snell is. What kind of command and Velocity does he possess. Dave, you seem to feel he is a middle of the rotation man? A #2 guy like a Meche? Or a #3 like Garza? If Z actually got a true 2-3 out of Pit I will dance in the street! All of the lefties Z has beem stock piling seem like thew same old loogies. Better suited for long relief and mop up..

  9. TomTuttle on August 1st, 2009 1:52 pm


  10. scott19 on August 1st, 2009 1:55 pm

    Amen, brother, amen!

  11. Jeff Nye on August 1st, 2009 1:56 pm

    From Dave’s Fangraphs post about the deal:

    “He’s not an ace – he’s a guy with good stuff and average to below average command and some well documented issues with his prior organization. I don’t like the word headcase, but when you’re talking about a guy who would rather pitch in Triple-A than the majors, it’s hard to argue with.”

    That’s what you’re getting with Snell. He’s got the upside of being a #2 guy based on his actual physical skills; his value to the team rests on whether his mental issues are fixable.

  12. SonOfZavaras on August 1st, 2009 2:18 pm

    I think Wakamatsu might very well be the kind of skipper Snell could use in his career.

    Wak’s line-ups are sometimes on the curious side, but he seems to be a pretty good communicator on the whole…and I’ve no doubt that he’s had to deal with “problematic” pitchers aplenty (yay, alliteration!) as a player and coach already.

    With Snell, if it don’t work, hey…on to other things. But if Snell has an ounce of career sense going on, he’s got to look at this time in Seattle the way a drowning man would look at a rope attached to a ship.

    “Salvation is here, baby doll! Pull yourself up! Up, up, UP!”

  13. 300ZXNA on August 1st, 2009 2:19 pm

    Perusing Snell’s fangraph’s pages it appears thet the big wildcard is his control. In 2007 he was able to keep his bb/9 below 3 and he was a 3.4 WAR player. In his other years his peripherals seemed pretty steady with the exception of his control. So hopefully our pitching coaches will be able to find what he was doing in 2007 and revive it.

  14. GoMariners on August 1st, 2009 2:38 pm

    We wouldn’t want to overpay for Felix either, would we? What’s the max we would pay felix? Maybe 5 years – $60 million?

  15. DMZ on August 1st, 2009 2:40 pm

    If only someone had written an article on that topic recently.

  16. TomTuttle on August 1st, 2009 2:49 pm

    I’m not worried about Snell, he’s in the best situation possible for his career.

    As long as his situation isn’t like Ryan Leaf’s situation, I’m not too worried.

    I wouldn’t want to feel like I’m doomed to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates forever either.

    And as for French, he is what he is, he’s a #5 starter and he can help bridge the gap between the time when Aumont, Morales and Morrow move into the rotation (assuming all of them aren’t traded).

    The only thing is we are still missing a legitimate #2 starter behind Felix.

    If we had a legitimate #2, you could put Ian Snell at #3 or #4 in the rotation where he belongs and take some pressure off him in his new situation.

  17. TomTuttle on August 1st, 2009 2:50 pm

    between now and the time*

  18. joser on August 1st, 2009 2:56 pm

    Back on June 29th, before the deadline trading season got underway, Dave wrote of Snell:

    Given the comments [by Pirates GM Huntington] and the situation, you’d think that Snell had been the worst pitcher in the history of baseball or had physically assaulted a teammate or something. But, no, he’d just struggled a bit with his command and stranding runners, which has led to an ERA (5.36) that’s about a run higher than his FIP (4.56). That’s the kind of performance that gets you banished from Pittsburgh nowadays?

    It’s not like Snell can’t pitch anymore, either. Yesterday, in his first start in Triple-A, away from the “negativity” of the situation at the major league level, he threw seven innings, gave up two hits, walked one, and struck out 17 batters. At one point, he blew away 13 Toledo hitters in a row. I know it’s Triple-A, but you can’t rack up 17 strikeouts against professional hitters without some talent.

    In a market where a bunch of contenders are pining for a starting pitcher, Snell would make a really good buy-low option for practically all of them. At worst, he’s a capable #5 starter, and he’s got the talent to be significantly more than that. Maybe it won’t work out for him in Pittsburgh, but this seems like a case of the Pirates flushing an asset for reasons that better management would be able to overcome.

    Snell in his interview with Calebro wasn’t especially forthcoming about a lot of things (perhaps understandably) but he seemed to emphasize the support he felt he got in Indy with his triple A team, vs how “alone” he felt with the Pirates, mentioning that he felt like he took all the blame for the losses in his starts. Not having seen any of those games, or having a good sense of how the Pirates team operates on a daily level, it’s hard to say if that was an accurate depiction of a dysfunctional team or just the distorted perception of overly-sensitive kid. But given the Pirates record year after year a certain amount of frustration and anger has to be baked into that team, and its hard to believe a certain amount of blame passing hasn’t become institutionalized. Just look at what repeatedly leaked out of the M’s clubhouse last year. And the M’s clubhouse this year, by all accounts, is a very different place (both from last year and from what Snell seemed to see in Pittsburgh). Clubhouse chemistry may not have the strong causal connection with winning that its proponents think (at least in that direction), but it could have a strong effect on one individual. Even if it was all in Snell’s head, a good coaching staff should be able to correct that perception. I have no idea if Wakamatsu / Adair / Wetteland have the necessary psychological acumen to give Snell what he needs (or if anybody does) but I’m willing to bet they have a better shot than most, and the potential upside means it’s certainly worth a shot to find out.

  19. egreenlaw9 on August 1st, 2009 2:57 pm

    Based on the comments in this thread…

    DMZ, Dave, Jeff, Mike & Co., have you guys considered adding a comment rating to each comment, with a certain threshold either hiding a comment or highlighting it (e.g. Digg)?

    I have no idea how much of a pain that would be, but maybe it would keep the threads on topic a bit more. That way people wouldn’t feel the need to respond to subpar comments and they could simply be temporarily ‘rated’ out of the thread.

    Just an idea.

  20. egreenlaw9 on August 1st, 2009 2:58 pm

    Btw, the reason I didn’t email the above is because the mailer daemon kept kicking it back to me.

  21. Marinerman1979 on August 1st, 2009 3:01 pm

    They cut Shelton for french. Those old guys are really going to do us good in 2010…

    As for Felix, try and get him to sign a 6-90 million contract.

  22. joser on August 1st, 2009 3:03 pm

    If we had a legitimate #2, you could put Ian Snell at #3 or #4 in the rotation where he belongs and take some pressure off him in his new situatio

    By the end of spring training next year, Morrow could be knocking on that door. Bedard may decide to stick around on a reasonable one year deal to try to prove he can last a full season to really cash in on free agency. (No, I don’t think there’s much chance of that either — as fallow as this free agent pitching class looks, somebody will take a chance on offering him a deal). RRS could build on his last start and look like a legit MOR starter by the end of the season (who needs a #2 if you have three #3s?) Snell could respond to his new situation to the point where the “pressure” of being a #2 is irrelevant. Or Zduriencik could pull off another spectacular trade this offseason. While this is a worry, it’s a worry for, say, January.

  23. joser on August 1st, 2009 3:07 pm

    DMZ, Dave, Jeff, Mike & Co., have you guys considered adding a comment rating to each comment, with a certain threshold either hiding a comment or highlighting it (e.g. Digg)?

    If you both know of a WordPress mod for this and have the technical ability to help install it, I’m sure they’d be happy to entertain the idea.

    That way people wouldn’t feel the need to respond to subpar comments and they could simply be temporarily ‘rated’ out of the thread.

    From what I’ve seen, people would rather respond with cutting comments than miss the fun due to cut-out posts.

  24. DAMellen on August 1st, 2009 3:19 pm

    I’m starting to think Curveballlee is joking. My friends who don’t understand baseball usually know they don’t understand baseball and tend to ask questions instead of telling me why I’m wrong. It doesn’t seem like anybody could actually be that far off the mark and that confident at the same time. Maybe he’s the same guy that posts as Attractive Nuisance on Lookout Landing.

  25. henryv on August 1st, 2009 3:27 pm

    I think what is fundamentally learned, and blatantly obvious is that money is far better spent on defense and hitting than aging mid-level free agent pitchers.

    But, now, we have a inexpensive group of starters that is gaining MLB experience, and we’re getting to test them, and see if they can pitch at this level.

    Now we can spend the money to get a big free agent worth the money, especially a big left handed DH, or a certain 3B who should be resigned to a 2 year deal, perhaps.

  26. Mousse on August 1st, 2009 3:35 pm

    They cut Shelton for french.

    Given the alternatives, I find that very disappointing.

  27. theandyduke on August 1st, 2009 3:45 pm

    about Snell being a ‘headcase’: If I was in the Pirates starting rotation, I’d probably ask to be demoted,too.

    I think with Wak, Adair, and Wettland coaching him, he can become a pretty decent pitcher. Not an ace by any means, but that’s not what we need. We already have a good one. We just need someone who more often than not goes out there and puts his team in a position to win, and I think he can do that.

  28. henryv on August 1st, 2009 4:00 pm

    about Snell being a ‘headcase’: If I was in the Pirates starting rotation, I’d probably ask to be demoted,too.

    This made me laugh for quite a while.

    I suppose a choice between Pittsburgh and Indy is probably not a tough choice.

    Suppose its one of those “pretend to be crazy to get out of jury duty” things.

  29. joser on August 1st, 2009 4:20 pm

    I’m starting to think Curveballlee is joking.

    If he is, then it’s not “joking.” The accurate term for it is “trolling.” I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, as clueless and confident are not mutually exclusive (unfortunately, as everything from talk radio to foreign policy often demonstrate), but someone asserting that last year’s rotation offers more potential for the dollar than next year’s, or that this year’s team is less worthy of time spent at the ballpark than last year’s, has wandered down the spectrum from clueless to delusional.

    Suppose its one of those “pretend to be crazy to get out of jury duty” things.

    And, appropriately, the Indianapolis Indians are in the same division with the Toledo Mud Hens, beloved team of one Corporal Max Klinger.

  30. joser on August 1st, 2009 4:24 pm

    I would hate to be the fan at the game where Silva was put out there to “sparkle”.

    However, I would love to be the fan at the game where Silva was put out there to “be set on fire.”

    Ok, that’s mean. But perhaps the Moose can chase him around the infield with the ATV? I’d buy a ticket to watch that.

  31. scott19 on August 1st, 2009 4:27 pm

    However, I would love to be the fan at the game where Silva was put out there to “be set on fire.”

    Such a spectacle might indeed be entertaining…though as hot and dry as it’s been around here lately, perhaps inadvisable. 🙂

  32. RickMirerManiac on August 1st, 2009 4:42 pm

    Snell does have a very unique bio. It seems he was once known as Ian Oquendom, when he decided to apopt his wife’s last name, as well as Ian Davila-Snell during the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Thanks, wikisnell.

    That being said, I am very excited to watch him pitch. I think he has the physical tools to be a legit #3, should he be able to keep his mental deck of cards in order.

  33. The Dreeze on August 1st, 2009 6:04 pm

    Lou Brown used to coach the Mudhens.

  34. scott19 on August 1st, 2009 9:32 pm

    BTW, for all the folks out there (not mentioning any names) that still think the M’s need to have an “experienced” (i.e. OLD) starting rotation to “succeed”, NY Vinnie just mentioned on tonight’s post-game show how young the starting rotations of the 1969 & 1986 NY Mets were.

    None were over 30 years old…

    The Mets won the World Series in both of those seasons.

  35. saltydawg05 on August 2nd, 2009 10:55 am

    I know a young and cheap rotation option that was just called up. Anybody else want to puke when chris tillman started for the o’s yesterday…and he is under club control for 6 years

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