Bradley and Branyan

Dave · December 18, 2009 at 10:06 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I think there is one wrinkle to the Milton Bradley acquisition that has not been discussed much, and that is how the presence of a player with Bradley’s health history affects what the team will do at first base, specifically with regards to Russ Branyan.

Bradley’s risks do not just end with his personality. He has had 500 plate appearances in a season twice in his career, and he’s only played in more than 130 games once. Thanks to the great injury tool, we can see that, in the last five years, Bradley has spent 188 days on the 15 day DL, 49 days on the 60 day DL, and been labeled day-to-day on 96 different days. He has had problems with his knee, hip, thigh, lower leg, groin, “general medical”, back, wrist, forearm, shoulder, trunk, ankle, hand, abdomen, and even his face.

The man gets hurt an awful lot. He makes up for it by playing well when he’s on the field, but it is going to be a fairly common occurrence that he’s not available to play. And that reality is going to make it hard for the M’s to also have a guy like Russ Branyan as their starting first baseman.

We already have an infielder with a history of injury problems in Jack Wilson, and we just acquired an OF/DH with an even more extensive series of health problems. As we saw last year, Junior’s knees will keep him off the field fairly regularly as well. Over a 162 game season, there’s a good chance that there are going to be days when all three of those guys are just not available due to various tweaks and pulls.

If you add Branyan to the mix, now you have four guys who you can’t really count on, health wise, to play everyday. A herniated disc is no joke, and even if he rehabs well and puts in a ton of work, there are going to be days when he just can’t go. And if that happens on the same day that Jack Wilson’s hamstring is bothering him and Milton Bradley’s (insert any body part here) is ailing, then what? Hannahan’s playing short, Hall goes to left, and Langerhans plays first, while Jr is the DH? Better hope the opponents aren’t throwing a southpaw that day. And if Junior’s knees are bothering him as well, well, apparently Rob Johnson would be your DH and you just play without a bench.

This might sound implausible, and it wouldn’t happen more than a couple of times all year, but the team would be playing with a short bench almost the entire year. On any given day, you would almost expect that one of Bradley/Griffey/Wilson/Branyan would be unavailable for one reason or another. That really limits Wak’s options at the end game. You have to think that there are going to be numerous occasions where Wak is going to want to pinch-hit for Jack Wilson in high leverage, late game situations, but he may be very hesitant to do that if Hannahan was starting at first base and Branyan wasn’t available to go into the game.

Also, you’re likely to see Langerhans used as a defensive replacement for Bradley quite a bit (both to improve the defense and just keep Milton healthy), so if he’s being reserved for that role and the team has another guy on the bench who can’t go that day, they will not be able to pinch run without significant risk.

In the end, I think three 30+ guys with a lot of nagging health problems is probably enough. I don’t know that the Mariners are going to want their #3 and #4 hitters to both be needing frequent rest days as they try to win the AL West. The addition of Bradley makes bringing Branyan back a little less palatable.

I’m certain the M’s have already had this discussion and are aware of this. Perhaps they already know that Russ isn’t coming back, and that he has a two year offer from a team that we haven’t heard about yet. But even if that’s not true, I think this acquisition lowers the value that Branyan can offer the Mariners in relation to someone who is a bit more reliable from a health standpoint.

I could be wrong, but to me, the Bradley acquisition means that we probably won’t see The Muscle back in Seattle next year.

Comments

76 Responses to “Bradley and Branyan”

  1. ck on December 18th, 2009 10:13 pm

    Is it possible for the M’s, as currently constructed, to have a first-base-man by committee until July’s trading season ?

  2. Coug1990 on December 18th, 2009 10:15 pm

    Not that it matters much, but I think in your worst case scenario, Langerhans will play left, Hall would play second and Lopez would move over to first.

    Still not an ideal situation, which is what you were getting at.

  3. Liam on December 18th, 2009 10:23 pm

    Does Branyan’s offseason work on his hips do anything for you or is that 10 years to late?

  4. Beniitec on December 18th, 2009 10:37 pm

    Great post. What of Adam LaRoche?

  5. lailaihei on December 18th, 2009 10:39 pm

    How about bringing in Eric Hinske for 1B?

    Not a world-beater, but he should stay healthy and put up 1.5-2.5 WAR over the course of a season at 1B.
    We should easily be able to get him for less than $2 million, and that leaves us with enough room to make a couple more FA pitcher signings (Sheets + Johnson?), or perhaps trade for another high-ish salary player.

  6. Mike Snow on December 18th, 2009 10:40 pm

    This is really the situation where you dream that the Cliffelix combination at the top of the rotation convinces them they can go back to an 11-man pitching staff.

  7. Mr. Egaas on December 18th, 2009 10:43 pm

    Is it possible for the M’s, as currently constructed, to have a first-base-man by committee until July’s trading season ?

    Not seeing it. Even if there’s a few quiet weeks or a month for acquisitions for this team, there will be bargains to be had later on.

    There aren’t a lot of teams out there jumping up to throw money around.

    Wins in April mean just as much as wins in September.

  8. MrGenre on December 18th, 2009 10:49 pm

    Or does this make it more likely we pursue a second baseman instead of first? Lopez, despite my lack of love for the guy, has at least been a very healthy player…

    Not that I can come up with a suitable arrangement that fits that scenario, anyway. And who knows? Maybe Jack has something even bigger up his sleeve.

    Great post, though, and an excellent point. Branyan will be missed.

  9. dingbatman on December 18th, 2009 10:53 pm

    On top of the injury question marks you have (in theory) a rookie at catcher. I agree. I think this might also apply to Vlad would it not?

  10. Dave on December 18th, 2009 10:53 pm

    Is it possible for the M’s, as currently constructed, to have a first-base-man by committee until July’s trading season?

    Possible? Sure. But the M’s have about $10 million left to spend and 1B is the easiest spot on the roster to upgrade. Not upgrading that position would be kind of foolish.

    Not that it matters much, but I think in your worst case scenario, Langerhans will play left, Hall would play second and Lopez would move over to first.

    My feeling is that the M’s will use Hall mostly as an outfielder in 2010.

    Does Branyan’s offseason work on his hips do anything for you or is that 10 years to late?

    He can work out all he wants, he still has a herniated disc in his back.

    What of Adam LaRoche?

    He apparently wants a three year deal, and is blissfully unaware of the fact that he has no chance of getting one.

    How about bringing in Eric Hinske for 1B?

    Probably not worth the expense given the marginal upgrade from Carp.

    This is really the situation where you dream that the Cliffelix combination at the top of the rotation convinces them they can go back to an 11-man pitching staff.

    Pretty unlikely.

  11. Chris on December 18th, 2009 10:57 pm

    Great post. I would like to think that Doctor Z checks USS Mariner from time to time just to make sure he’s getting all the perspective he can get.

  12. dingbatman on December 18th, 2009 10:58 pm

    I still like Luke Scott. I know he said he’d consider moving to 1st.

  13. Dave on December 18th, 2009 11:01 pm

    I still like Luke Scott. I know he said he’d consider moving to 1st.

    Yep – to me, this is the scenario that makes the most sense.

  14. fiftyone on December 18th, 2009 11:17 pm

    You have to think that there are going to be numerous occasions where Wak is going to want to pinch-hit for Jack Wilson in high leverage, late game situations

    I’d counter that Wakamatsu hasn’t shown himself (so far) to be the most eager manager to pinch hit for a guy. So the whole “we might not be able to pinch-hit as often” issue seems like a non-starter. So far. As for the rest of what you said, Dave, brilliant.

    Now giving guys like Ichiro! or Lopez a semi-day off by DHing them for the day becomes harder the more often the actual DH dudes are hurt.

    He apparently wants a three year deal, and is blissfully unaware of the fact that he has no chance of getting one.

    If it’s February and LaRoche is still looking for a job because of his blissful ignorance, and then the brutal reality sets in, I’d love Jack to swoop in with a two-year offer.

    Jack Z probably has a move brewing that none of us have even considered.

    I dunno. Given the sheer volume of comments vomited here in the past 72 hours, I think EVERYTHING has been unofficially “considered” now.

  15. nickwest1976 on December 18th, 2009 11:17 pm

    Yep, I think Luke Scott makes a ton of sense…we can all dream of Fielder or AGon…and while I won’t put it past Jack Z to get one of those guys, certainly Luke Scott is going to cost far less to acquire…and he’s a pretty darn good player.

    I also like that Scott also offers flexibility…with some of the guys Dave mentioned as injury risks, it’s nice to know that Scott could move to LF if something major happened there.

    Dave, any idea of the kind of player it would take to get Scott? Mark Lowe? Saunders?

  16. joser on December 18th, 2009 11:36 pm

    Of course all these arguments would apply to Nick Johnson, too. If they’d been able to land NJ, would they have gone for the Bradley trade? Or — more to the point — did they specifically forgo bidding on NJ because of exactly these considerations since they already were in serious discussions with the Cubs?

    Ok, we’ve reached the point where nothing Zduriencik does can surprise us, and yet he just keeps doing exactly that. So, how about… Uggla at 1b?

    How about bringing in Eric Hinske for 1B?

    But Hinske has serious mojo. He’s been on three different teams the past three years, and each of them has gone to the World Series (and two of those have won). Having Hinske on your team is a guarantee you’ll play in the postseason. If your team is in the AL East, anyway. ;)

  17. fiftyone on December 18th, 2009 11:43 pm

    Hinske has Don Baylor’s old job.

  18. tmac9311 on December 18th, 2009 11:44 pm

    so would we be done after Scott? Is Griffey officially starting DH?

    1b: Scott
    2b: Lopez
    ss: Wilson
    3b: Figgins
    lf/dh: Bradley
    lf: Langerhauns
    cf: DTFT
    rf: Ichiro!
    dh: Junior

    seems like after a first basemen we are still a player short. Like you said, that’s what happens when you sign Griffey, but I’d still like one more guy. Doumit and Scott seems like what we should go for. I know we love Johnson, but i think we really need as much flexibility as possible right now. I really don’t want to see Griffey and Langerhauns in the starting lineup if we can avoid it.

  19. fiftyone on December 18th, 2009 11:52 pm

    so would we be done after Scott?

    We might be, but I don’t believe Jack will ever be done upgrading this team. Think about that for a second.

  20. Kazinski on December 19th, 2009 12:14 am

    Scott or Adam LaRoche both make sense, but I don’t think you quite make your case for Branyan being too fragile to rely on. The odds that all 4 gimps aren’t going to be able to play is pretty long, and you’ll have Carp just a phone call away.

    But of course if Branyan is going to have trouble staying healthy it will likely be apparent come spring, and by then it may be too late to fix it. Russell is probably the best of the three offensively, Scott may be the cheapest option, depending what the Orioles want for him.

    After 1b is taken care of, then we sign Felix.

  21. mattlock on December 19th, 2009 12:17 am

    Dave,

    When Walt Jocketty was asked about Votto and he replied, “Oh god no”, was that a “Oh god no, I really don’t want to trade that guy” or a “Oh god no, there’s no way in hell that guy is leaving my team!!!”?

  22. Jake N. on December 19th, 2009 12:29 am

    Great move, all kinds of risk but it actually has an upside now! I am shocked at Bradley’s Career OBP and OPS. Here is hoping for 500 ABs with those stats…

    On a side note, HOW in the world did Jak Z go this long without a GM’s job? I love this man, I may just shave bald in his honor.

  23. DaveValleDrinkNight on December 19th, 2009 1:29 am

    How about trading Morrow and Lopez + change for Zobrist?

    Pipe dream I know, but Z is a ninja.

  24. Pete on December 19th, 2009 1:47 am

    I realize Bradley is coming in as a LF/DH, but I’m still kind of hoping that we still in two players for 1B and regular DH. Seems like Branyan could fill the regular DH role (sharing with Bradley and Junior if need be), and then that permanent 1B guy (Gonzalez? …yeah, right) acts as a cover for all the injury prone dudes.

    The dream middle of the order scenario would be 3-4-5 Bradley-Gonzalez-Branyan.

    Is that too much to ask???? Ha.

  25. GLS on December 19th, 2009 2:32 am

    In order, who are your top 5 or 6 options at 1B, either via free agency or trade?

  26. Briggstar on December 19th, 2009 3:01 am

    A quick aside about our SP’s, as I’m worried we may have a significant drop-off in “stuff” after our #1 and #2…

    I was reamed when musing about bringing back the much-maligned Erik Bedard at a discount and plugging him into the #3 slot. You know, his unreliability, his lack of fire, his Canadianism!

    Ryan Rowland-Smith and Brandon Morrow are the usual #3 suggestions instead, with “upside” and “possible innings-eater” being key descriptors for one or the other.

    But a look at Bedard shows that his two best years (’06 & ’07) had him at least sniffing 200 innings per, and we know that his 82ish innings each of the past two seasons were ultimately because of nagging injuries requiring surgery (though he took considerable heat for just being a “weanie”).

    RRS has just over 250 innings for his entire MLB career; Morrow has less than 200. I’m high on their upside too, but I’m not sure we should assume either one is the best option to follow Felix & Cliff. Ian Snell has topped 200 innings once – his rookie year – but he is still more of a back end SP in my mind.

    Erik Bedard wasn’t worth what we gave up to get him; he may not be worth even 1/4 of last year’s salary. But this is a guy who has lights-out stuff when he’s on, is only 2 years removed from a top 5 finish in the AL Cy Young, and if I read him right, has something left to prove to the fans of Seattle and the rest of the baseball world.

    Ben Sheets is another sexy-yet-risky name I’m holding out hope for. Both of these guys have the capability to be staff aces, but their high salaries and fragile bodies (rightfully) scare most suitors. It may be too much of a gamble, but then so was The Most Trusted Name in Board Games, and Jack Z just rolled those dice.

    Thoughts?

  27. mw3 on December 19th, 2009 3:04 am

    I still think there is a chance Beltre ends up back here and Lopez starts spring training as the 1B. Then at some point hopefully a Lopez and prospect trade happens for a real first baseman.

  28. Briggstar on December 19th, 2009 3:17 am

    Rather than Sheets, a better comparison from my previous wish list may have been Rich Harden (also known as the best thing not to happen to Seattle this offseason). But now that the Cliff Lee party has arrived instead, but wouldn’t it have been nice to have both of them behind King Felix?

    Bedard has a career 8.77K/9 innings rate. His past two seasons with the M’s were cut short, but he did have a 3.24 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP when he did pitch. That’s top 20 SP stuff.

    I’m not sure his tender left shoulder or his fragile psyche were cut out for a full season as a staff ace…but as a high risk/high reward #3 behind Hernandez and Lee…wowzaz!

  29. jwgrandsalami on December 19th, 2009 4:42 am

    Nice post Dave. I agree with you that the Bradley signing means that Branyan doesn’t return in 2010, but i seriously doubt that in this market he’s got a two year offer in his pocket. If a guy with a career OBP over .400 (Nick Johnson) can’t get a two-year deal this winter, how likely is is that Branyan, who’s had one good year as a regular and missed most of the last two months with an injury that’s still a lingering concern will get one?

    In any event if I were the M’s I might be willing to do two years, $7 million with bonuses for plate appearances that could get the deal up to $10 mil or $11 mil total. That might be worth the risk for a guy that’s proven he can hit at Safeco.

  30. Miles on December 19th, 2009 6:35 am

    The thing is, everytime you hear Zduriencik talk about Branyan, he says, “He’s got to get healthy”. I take this as he knows Branyan’s health status and it doesn’t look good. I think the M’s have offered him a one year deal as a good faith extension since he was injured while playing for them. The softies.

    Branyan doesn’t fit in other ways as well. Dave mentioned we need a 3 or 4 hitter. Since when has that been Branyan? It drove me nuts watching him hit in the 2 hole last year. If the M’s need a 3 or 4 hole guy, Branyan is not the man.

    Next.

    LaRoche was talking about him and Langerhans being a package deal. Dave, what does LaRoche look like at say 2x$8million w/possibly an option? Does you like what he brings to the table at a reasonable contract? I have a feeling if there is not a deal to be done LaRoche is next in line.

  31. Miles on December 19th, 2009 6:37 am

    Do… crap. I need a proof reader.

  32. Mekias on December 19th, 2009 6:50 am

    I’m not too enamored with the 1B free agents available right now. Maybe it’s because I think Carp can be a 1.5 WAR player but the majority of the guys out there seem like only marginal upgrades. That’s fine if they don’t cost a lot but I don’t want to see us pay a lot (or trade a lot) for a 1.5-2.5 WAR first baseman. 5 million is about my limit for a guy like that.

  33. mebpenguin on December 19th, 2009 7:06 am

    Luke Scott is my preference, he won’t cost too much in terms of prospects or money, can play 1B or LF and will come on a one year deal. Pick him up and then go out and sign a reliever and your off-season is done.

  34. Paul B on December 19th, 2009 7:27 am

    The M’s are going to have to do a better job this year with the DL and the Tacoma Shuttle.

    It seemed like last year they resisted making a change unless they really had to, e.g., players out for 6 or more games but not going on the DL.

  35. frontstreetfan on December 19th, 2009 7:34 am

    Mebpenguin, Jack Z is always going to be signing relievers based upon last season. He will continually look for cost effective value and upside. However, my strong preference would be go for Ben Sheets at $9 million yr one with incentives for yr two on a club option and A. LaRoche at 1st base for a two season contract in the $6-7 million per yr. LaRoche has a career .342 OBA and 6 consecutive seasons of 20 or more HRS. and bats from the left side. no brainer.

    LIneup

    Ichiro-RF
    Figgins-3rd
    Bradley-LF/DH
    LaRoche1st
    Lopez-2nd, Hannihan
    Griffey-DH, Hall
    Guti-CF
    Wilson-SS
    Johnson/Moore-C

  36. Paul B on December 19th, 2009 7:40 am

    How important is lineup flexibility?

    I recall Dave writing about this awhile back. The M’s have Saunders, Tui, and Carp. Jack obviously didn’t want to depend on all three, but how many of those three will force their way into the lineup? Some number between 0 and 3.

    Maybe you fill in all the holes, and then make a deal to open a spot if and when it becomes obvious that needs to be done.

  37. Miles on December 19th, 2009 8:40 am

    Tui is not ready, IMO, looking at his Winter League stats. Carp is pencilled in at first until/unless Zduriencik comes upon an opportunity he can’t refuse. Saunders would greatly benefit from his complete full season in AAA honing at developing the power swing they worked on him with in AZ this winter. Saunders can come up next year after Griffey retires (?) and MB moves to full time DH or is out of baseball.

    So the count at the moment is 1. 0 would be nice.

  38. ck on December 19th, 2009 8:42 am

    Suppose Saunders has a monster spring training driving balls into gaps and over walls…Has Bradley ever played first base ?

  39. Tek Jansen on December 19th, 2009 8:44 am

    Ideally, I would love to see the M’s resign Beltre, move Figgins to 2B, and have Lopez play 1B. Lopez is not a great 1B option, but I would rather have an infield of Beltre/Wilson/Figgins/Lopez than Figgins/Wilson/Lopez/Scott. The second option is still good, and it would make the M’s better, but I would love to have Beltre’s defense back.

    The M’s can realistically look for a good option at either corner infield spot.

  40. jack_per_conte on December 19th, 2009 8:58 am

    [Bizarro trade time]

  41. riversurge24 on December 19th, 2009 9:39 am

    They could always go after Beltre to play third and move Figgins to second with Lopez moving to first..

    Any thoughts? Beltre might be too expensive but you never know..

  42. eponymous coward on December 19th, 2009 9:45 am

    Ideally, I would love to see the M’s resign Beltre, move Figgins to 2B, and have Lopez play 1B. Lopez is not a great 1B option, but I would rather have an infield of Beltre/Wilson/Figgins/Lopez than Figgins/Wilson/Lopez/Scott. The second option is still good, and it would make the M’s better, but I would love to have Beltre’s defense back.

    So, you want a worse Mariner team just so you can watch Beltre? Lopez at 1B isn’t a lot better than Carp, if at all, plus they both have a severe case of “swing at any crap pitch” disease, plus they aren’t great hitters at Safeco. Also, playing a league-average 2B at 1B is a huge waste of resources, since that turns an average 2B into a crappy 1B.

    I don’t mind the idea of one of Beltre/Lopez in the lineup… but ONE of them is about as much as I (or this lineup) can take, I think. (Personally, in a resign-Beltre scenario, what I’d like to see is Beltre at 3B, Figgins at 2B, and Lopez dealt for fixing the 1B hole.)

  43. Mekias on December 19th, 2009 10:01 am

    I HATE the idea of Lopez at 1B. His value is at 2B. Either play him at second or trade him.

  44. Mariners2620 on December 19th, 2009 10:19 am

    I honestly would be fine with Carp at first base over having to give up prospects for Luke or wasting more money on Branyan/Laroche. I am all for an Adrian Gonzalez or a Prince Fielder trade obviously, but that probably won’t happen. I think that is about beyond what Z can pull off. If he hadn’t pulled the Cliff Lee trade off, then I could have seen us making an even harder push for AGonz or Prince.

  45. Jarvis on December 19th, 2009 10:36 am

    We should forget about Branyan once and for all. He was a very nice pick-up last year — classic case of mining value out of an underrated player. Now, on the heels of a career year that probably can’t repeat, he’s not worth what his market price.

    Also, even without Branyan, Dave’s scenario of Bradley/Junior/Wilson all aching at the same time is just more evidence that they need to go with 14 position players on their roster. As I’ve said before, with both Lee and the King in our rotation we’ll be fine with only 11 pitchers.

  46. Liam on December 19th, 2009 10:41 am

    I HATE the idea of Lopez at 1B. His value is at 2B. Either play him at second or trade him.

    Dave wrote about this over atThe Second Base Glut over at fangraphs.

    For the Mariners and Mets, they’re probably stuck with the guys they already have. This is just not the year to be trading a second baseman.

  47. universalguru on December 19th, 2009 10:55 am

    Another potential issue with Bradley is that IF he does act up it may affect our ability to re-sign Cliff Lee and sign other free agents. How short of a leash is Bradley on? Will they cut him at the first sign of an issue even with the 6 million they’ve invested into him?

  48. Miles on December 19th, 2009 11:04 am

    Does anyone know about Blalocks status, health? There are some ties to the coaching staff, he’s a lefty bat that has hit in the 3/4 slots and as someone told me, he’s an Angel killer.

    No prospect or draft pick cost there. But he may end up in the same category as Branyan as far as injury potential. +/- on this?

  49. Mariners2620 on December 19th, 2009 11:07 am

    Have you seen Blalocks OBP…..277!! OUCH!

  50. Miles on December 19th, 2009 11:14 am

    So there were no injury issues last year? He his career OBP isn’t .277. Is he done?

    Not even a chance of getting this guy to camp on an NRI and let him beat out Carp?

  51. sonichound on December 19th, 2009 11:28 am

    Seems like Blalock has been battling injury problems his whole career and that usually doesn’t get better with age and I would stay away from him. I agree with a previous poster that Lopez at 2B is a better option than moving him to 1B. His numbers look OK for a 2B but would be sup-par at 1B. While I don’t think a team has to have a big bopper to be successful, I do think that having one to go against the better pitchers is important. Stringing together hits for runs is much easier against lower level pitchers but you sometimes need the big bomb going against the tougher pitchers to get those runs across. The huge plus with getting a bunch of high OBP guys is using up those starters pitches. If you have a bunch of guys getting 4-6 pitches per at bat they start adding up pretty quickly. Get a couple guys on base and 100 pitches comes pretty quickly and you start eating up their bullpen. With our pitching and defense having a guy that can get us a run with one swing of the bat would be huge.

  52. eponymous coward on December 19th, 2009 11:29 am

    Well, if Lopez isn’t going to be able to be moved due to 2B oversupply (though never say never, when Zduriencik is concerned), I’d have to say Beltre doesn’t fit on the team at this point.

    I honestly would be fine with Carp at first base over having to give up prospects for Luke or wasting more money on Branyan/Laroche.

    Carp isn’t very good. He OPS’ed pretty close to what Lopez did his two half-years in AAA (and we can see that it took him a while to get good), and while, yes, he does have better strike zone judgment and is a better bat for the park, I don’t think he’s really proven he belongs in the majors.

    LaRoche on a decent deal (one year, a few million) isn’t going to be a boat anchor for the team or a waste of money, and Scott isn’t going to be impossible to deal for, I think. At this point, a 2ish WAR 1B like Scott or LaRoche is a significant upgrade on a 0ish WAR like Carp for 2010, ESPECIALLY given how close the M’s are to contention. As long as the money is right and they won’t be blocking Carp longterm if he breaks out in AAA in 2010, I don’t see why you wouldn’t make those moves.

  53. Kazinski on December 19th, 2009 11:33 am

    Lopez is downgrade at 1b over Carp. Carp is patient left handed hitter, that is going to show some power, maybe not right away, but he’ll be more productive than Lopez.

  54. eponymous coward on December 19th, 2009 11:34 am

    Blalock’s WAR since 2005: about half a WAR a year. Basically, he’s a slightly improved version of Junior, if that, so pass, even on an NRI. Carp is probably about as good a player.

  55. Mariners2620 on December 19th, 2009 11:38 am

    It depends on what LaRoche wants to do. If he wants to wait it out as long as possible for this 3-4 year deal that he thinks he will be receiving, then we may not have the time to sit around and wait for him to make up his mind.

  56. eponymous coward on December 19th, 2009 11:43 am

    Lopez is downgrade at 1b over Carp. Carp is patient left handed hitter, that is going to show some power, maybe not right away, but he’ll be more productive than Lopez.

    Actually, I’d call Lopez a bit ahead or even on Carp this year. Carp’s the better 1B long term, with them both being fairly comparable players when they are playing at their proper position (1B for Carp, 2B for Lopez), but I’m just not sold that hitting .271 in the PCL with “meh” power means he’s ready- so far, Tug Hulett is a better hitter in AAA than Mike Carp. WWould you make Tug Hulett your everyday 1B?

    Given this, and given that the M’s need to maximize their wins NOW, especially given that Cliff Lee is obviously a win-now move, neither of them should be the 1B unless there’s a really clear move somewhere else that lets you carry a sub-par 1B like Lopez or Carp.

  57. sonichound on December 19th, 2009 11:43 am

    I would be interested to see what it would take to pry away either Joey Votto or Yonder Alonso from the Reds. Both L handed bats and they don’t really have a spot for both of them in the lineup.

  58. Mariners2620 on December 19th, 2009 11:48 am

    I imagine it would take quite a bit for Joey Votto.

  59. dirk on December 19th, 2009 11:48 am

    When we discuss moving Lopez to 1B, shouldn’t we also consider the defensive improvement at 2B and, likely, 1B?

    Adding Orlando Hudson or Felipe Lopez at 2B would give us another swtich hitter, with solid defense, and both guys had 50 extra base hits last year.

    Lopez gives us 40 doubles and 20 hr’s from the right side and becomes a plus defender at 1B, for a decent salary.

  60. sonichound on December 19th, 2009 11:54 am

    With the obvious intent of the M’s front office to win now. It would stand to reason that they would be willing to “mortgage” some of the future to get a bat at 1B to get us over the hump next year. Capitalize on the great fortune of getting Lee for a year teamed up with Felix and make a run while Ichiro is still young enough to play at a high level. I would rather have them pull the trigger on a big move that puts us into title contention next year then not make that move and count on those younger minor league players to pan out and help the team the next few years down the road. Seems like it would go a long way in contract talks with Felix and Lee if we have a shot a title contention team as opposed to a team that is going be in a race to even make the playoffs.

  61. Mariners2620 on December 19th, 2009 11:58 am

    I don’t think that GMZ is necessarily “going for it” this season. He had the opportunity and the money to trade and sign some great players, which he did. It’s not like the Bavasi years, where he had decided to sell the farm and offer out a bunch of multi-year contracts to some declining players. It’s not the same situation at all. A couple of players that he has signed this season have the chance to come back next year, but also can leave which will free up money in order to sign players in the excellent free agent class next season. It’s going to be fun for years to come with him at the top.

  62. argh on December 19th, 2009 12:03 pm

    I wonder to what extent you can quantify the positive effect of grinding down the opposing starting pitcher with our new, improved lineup of Zen-like patience? Empirically it seems pretty obvious but is there anyway to calculate the improvement in run production?

  63. universalguru on December 19th, 2009 12:07 pm

    Well “argh” it will certainly get starting pitchers out of the game earlier which will do nothing but wear out starters and bullpens alike. That’s a good thing for 3 and 4 game series.

  64. eponymous coward on December 19th, 2009 12:12 pm

    I don’t think that GMZ is necessarily “going for it” this season.

    “Win now” does not equate to “do anything for wins in 2010 and turn into Bill Bavasi’s clone”. That’s a straw man, and nobody is arguing that. It simply means that making moves that take you from an 85 win roster to a 90 win roster in 2010 are ones you should be willing to make, as Dave pointed out.

    I think a pretty decent case can be made that Carp does not deserve the 1B job yet, given that his performance in AA wasn’t all that great. If you can make a move that give you a decent 1B, that doesn’t block Carp in 2011 or saddle you with a stupid, Sexson-esque deal, I think it’s fine to make it.

  65. kevinzelko on December 19th, 2009 12:18 pm

    The move also means that we are no longer affected by Bavasi’s immediate decisions!

  66. Mariners2620 on December 19th, 2009 12:18 pm

    Stop turning everything I am saying around to be a negative. It seemed as if sonichound felt that since he was going for the win now approach, he should just mortgage some of the future, which in my mind seems like something Bavasi would do. That is what sonichound suggested, and I didn’t feel that that is exactly what Z had in mind.

  67. sonichound on December 19th, 2009 12:36 pm

    I do feel that acquiring Cliff Lee and Milton Bradley is the sign of the team looking to win now. Bradley less so than Lee since we basically gave up nothing, but trading away minor league players for Lee has got to do something more than get us close to making the playoffs. I am very happy with the deal, but if we end up not making the playoffs and Lee walks for a couple draft picks instead of making one more move to put us into contention I believe it makes that puts the deal in a more negative light. I would rather take a shot at winning it all than have a team with a winning record for multiple years without making that last move that pushes you towards the top.

  68. DMZ on December 19th, 2009 12:36 pm

    I wonder to what extent you can quantify the positive effect of grinding down the opposing starting pitcher with our new, improved lineup of Zen-like patience?

    I did some work on this a long while ago, and it’s not significant. It’s a good way to talk about the benefits of patience to hitters, but in practice, the most impatient team doesn’t see a reliever much faster than the least patient one, and certainly not enough to make a difference.

  69. sonichound on December 19th, 2009 12:38 pm

    DMZ, would that be attributed to the team with less patience scoring more runs and knocking the pitcher out of the game before a high pitch count? Otherwise, it would seem that the team that takes more pitches would have to get to the bullpen faster.

  70. DMZ on December 19th, 2009 12:41 pm

    It’s certainly the obvious assumption, but it’s just not that big of a difference in practice when you work out it.

  71. Leroy Stanton on December 19th, 2009 1:15 pm

    Dave, I agree Branyan becomes more risky because of his back, but he was a no-go once we became serious contenders for 2010. Branyan is fine as a bench player, but he is not a starter for a contender.

    I know you place a high value on sabermetrics and statistical analysis, as you should, but there are limitations. And Branyan is the poster child for those limitations.

    The guy is prone to extremely hot and cold streaks. Over a season the numbers should balance out, so you may be tempted to dismiss this concern. But there is a real-world problem with this. When he goes cold, there is, and has been, a propensity for him to be benched/traded/released. And he’s not falling from a high enough level where a manager has enough faith in him to just ride it out. And, at age 34 and having never been a consistent producer, the faith issue is only exacerbated.

    So, in Branyan’s case, you need to consider this additional risk to his availability. It does the M’s no good to sign him now, while there are other options, only to have to release him later when there a few good options. Bradley is already risky enough in this regard. We don’t need to double down on Branyan.

  72. joser on December 19th, 2009 1:27 pm

    The other thing about “wearing down the starter” is that, contrary to popular belief, relievers aren’t necessarily inferior pitchers. They’re just only effective for an inning or two, which is why they’re not starters. Just getting into the bullpen isn’t necessarily advantageous in itself; you need to do it several days in a row so the relievers are pitching more innings than normal or getting shorter rest, or you’re getting the dregs of the bullpen. Then you come out ahead. But just having the starter pitch one less inning each game isn’t as big a win as you might expect.

    Well, if Lopez isn’t going to be able to be moved due to 2B oversupply (though never say never, when Zduriencik is concerned), I’d have to say Beltre doesn’t fit on the team at this point.

    Yeah, I think that’s a given unless Beltre finds himself the last good 3B left standing after the 3B musical chairs ends (which would be a major failure on Boras’ part, IMO). It’s possible that if he’s going to take less than he thought he may just come back to the M’s (“Hey, remember that arbitration number…yeah”) but even then I would think his best bet would be to take a cut-rate one-year deal somewhere with a park that will inflate his numbers. But I still think he’s going to Boston, and would be there already if not for Lowell’s thumb issues.

    As for Lopez, I think the most important factor is that the team has three promising guys who are all spending time at 2B this off-winter — Ackley, Truinfel, and

    With the obvious intent of the M’s front office to win now. It would stand to reason that they would be willing to “mortgage” some of the future to get a bat at 1B to get us over the hump next year

    Except nothing they’ve done so far could be described as “mortgaging the future” so why would they start now? They get draft picks back when Lee leaves, if he does; if he doesn’t, and they sign him for several years, the future is brighter
    anyway (though I think that’s unlikely: they extend Felix, let Lee walk, and take the draft picks). They didn’t mortgage anything to get Figgins, and they got Bradley for a sunk cost. They have done nothing to squander the future of the org.

    I do feel that acquiring Cliff Lee and Milton Bradley is the sign of the team looking to win now. Bradley less so than Lee since we basically gave up nothing, but trading away minor league players for Lee has got to do something more than get us close to making the playoffs. I am very happy with the deal, but if we end up not making the playoffs and Lee walks for a couple draft picks instead of making one more move to put us into contention I believe it makes that puts the deal in a more negative light.

    I disagree. If Lee leaves and they take the draft picks, then they had a better 2010 team than we had any right to expect without giving up anything except one prospect and a couple of years development time on a couple of others (and maybe not even that). It’s a positive either way.

    As I said over on Fangraphs, this is a sort of “win now” strategy but not the one most people mean when they use that term. Zduriencik has not squandered the farm, he hasn’t ballooned the budget, and he hasn’t done anything in the short term that will harm the long term. Yes, he clearly is making moves to contend in 2010, and those moves have more risk (because there’s more potential reward) but as Dave noted he was going to have to do that anyway — you can claw your way back to .500 just by replacing your weak links with undervalued players, but each incremental win after that gets harder and harder and requires more resources and/or risk.

    But even so, Zduriencik has done nothing to squander future chances. Even with Bradley, the biggest risk, they can always just walk away and eat the money — which they probably would’ve had to do with Silva anyway. There are still the draft picks if Lee leaves. Figgins didn’t break the bank. They’re “going for it” but they have done nothing to “mortgage” the future, and I don’t expect them to start.

    I would rather take a shot at winning it all than have a team with a winning record for multiple years without making that last move that pushes you towards the top.

    Again, I disagree. Strongly. I realize this is a matter of opinion, but I would much rather have the 1990s Braves than the 1995-2005 Marlins…even though the Marlins won two WS to the Braves’ one. I’d rather eat decently every day of the week than have a feast on Sunday surrounded by six days of shit sandwiches. Sure, it would be great to go all the way — but the postseason is a crapshoot. You can have the best team in baseball and still not win it all — the 2001 Mariners should have taught us that. Better to be consistently good year after year and give yourself as many chances as possible than to gamble it all on one roll of the dice. And suppose you do “go for it” and win it all — then what? Yay, we have a parade, and… then what? Oh, great, now we have to live with crap for several more years before we see the postseason again? No thanks.

    I think Zduriencik is going to make the team as good as he can this year without interfering with his ability to make it even better in subsequent years. He’s said several times they have a multi-year plan, and I don’t think the opportunity to grab Cliff Lee for a year has significantly changed that.

  73. joser on December 19th, 2009 1:40 pm

    Ooops, didn’t finish my Lopez thought. My point was that with these guys (Tui, Trui, and Ackley) in the minors all taking reps at 2B, it’s obvious one of them is likely the long-term answer at 2B starting in 2011 (if not sooner). So how much upside is there to replacing Lopez with someone you can get on a one-year deal? Because the good players want more than a one-year deal, so unless you’re planning on moving this new guy to a different position or trading him (in addition to whatever you have to do with Lopez), you’re probably not getting that much of an upgrade over Lopez (especially considering how cheap he is).

    Though Zduriencik keeps finding ways to surprise us. How about: Dan Uggla… for first base?

  74. Wag on December 19th, 2009 7:13 pm

    Im convinced that Bradley will do well as a DH/LF for the Mariners for one main reason.
    Our clubhouse and chemistry. He has already mentioned how excited he is to be playing side by side with ken Griffey Jr.
    Once again, just because a positive clubhouse and attitude can’t be measured, doesn’t mean it isn’t a major factor in the success of a team.
    Without those factors Milton Bradley plays like he did last year. With those factors he’s a potential top 3 on base percentage player.

  75. TumwaterMike on December 19th, 2009 9:27 pm

    Lopez at 1B isn’t a lot better than Carp, if at all, plus they both have a severe case of “swing at any crap pitch” disease, plus they aren’t great hitters at Safeco.

    How about sign Beltre, move Figgins to 2B, then trade Lopez and Morrow plus prospects to Houston for Roy Oswalt. He’s a pretty gritty pitcher and would be an excellent #3.

  76. TumwaterMike on December 19th, 2009 9:31 pm

    Rf Ichiro
    2B Figgins
    CF Gutierrez
    LF Bradley
    3B Beltre
    DH Griffey or whomever
    1B Carp
    SS Wilson
    C Johnson/Moore

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