M’s Sign Jody Gerut And Nate Robertson

Dave · January 20, 2011 at 6:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The M’s have been shopping from the bargain bin this winter, but they’ve hit on a couple of nice no cost pickups today, bringing in outfielder Jody Gerut and left-handed pitcher Nate Robertson.

Let’s start with Robertson, since he’s probably the more likely of the two to make the team out of spring training. I’ve been a fan of his for a while (here’s an article I wrote about him as a buy-low opportunity two years ago), and while he hasn’t exactly made me look like a genius, I still think there’s potential there. He was a pretty good starter for the Tigers from 2004-2006, running ground ball rates near 50% and K/BB ratios of around 2.00. Pitchers who can do both of those thing simultaneously are tough to find, especially from the left side.

He started heading down hill in 2007, as his walks went up and his ground balls went down. 2008 was a total disaster from a results perspective (6.35 ERA), and was the season that cost him his spot in the starting rotation, but his underlying performance was still okay. Rather than bouncing back in 2009, he ended up in the bullpen, had surgery on his elbow, and ended up only throwing 40 innings in what was essentially a lost year. He got shipped to the Marlins last spring, and while he wasn’t good, he was a semi-useful innings sponge.

He also has a pretty similar skillset to Chris Capuano, who we talked about a few weeks ago as a possibility for the M’s. Like Capuano, Robertson’s fatal flaw is giving up home runs to right-handed batters. 141 of the 160 home runs that Robertson has allowed have been to righties. For his career, he’s at 0.60 HR/9 vs LHB, and 1.46 HR/9 vs RHB. As we’ve noted many times, righties don’t hit for a lot of power in Safeco, so the park could mask Robertson’s big flaw. He’s unlikely to be an ace, but the team could do worse than to give him 150 innings at the back of the rotation and let Safeco make him look like a pretty capable #5 starter. If one of the young kids pushes him out of the rotation, he’s got the skillset to be a tough left-handed reliever, though he’s been resistant to the role in the past. He’s starting to run out of options, though, and the team might be able to convince him that he could extend his career in the big leagues by becoming a solid lefty relief option if it comes to that.

Gerut’s a little bit different, in that his decline from being a good player is easily explained – he tore his knee to shreds in 2004 and essentially lost three years out of the prime of his career. ACL surgery cost him most of 2005, then recovering from more knee surgeries cost him 2006 and 2007 as well, but he reappeared on the scene out of nowhere in 2008 to post a +3 win season in just 100 games. He hit .296/.351/.494 while playing half his games in Petco, no easy feat. He hasn’t been able to repeat that success, though, and at 33 years old, he probably won’t ever do that again. That said, he’s a pretty decent defensive outfielder with some pop in his bat from the left side, and if healthy, he could provide a little bit of offense as a part-time player.

The problem with Gerut is fit on the roster. As a left-handed hitting outfielder, he’s not really an option to share time with Michael Saunders, as the team needs a right-handed stick for the role that will likely be vacated by Milton Bradley. Gerut falls into the same kind of problem that Ryan Langerhans has run into, in that he’s useful but that he duplicates some of what Saunders offers, only while lacking the athleticism and potential of the younger version. Unless the team decides Saunders needs more time in Tacoma, there’s probably not a spot on the roster for Gerut right away. But, if he agrees to go to Tacoma and stays healthy, he could be a solid fill-in later in the year if needed.

It’s nice to see the organization making nifty little moves like this. With pickups like Brendan Ryan and Adam Kennedy, the team had given themselves depth and options at the middle infield spots, and now they’ve created competition for the outfield and left-handed pitcher spots as well. Since both new guys are in on minor league contracts, the team is shouldering no risk, and can bring them to Peoria and see what they have. They might not be the kinds of guys that create headlines, but they’re interesting depth guys to have around. The M’s are a little bit better today than they were yesterday.


16 Responses to “M’s Sign Jody Gerut And Nate Robertson”

  1. philosofool on January 20th, 2011 6:46 pm

    The link for Robertson points to the wrong place. You want this http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1620&position=P

    The analysis seems right.

  2. l2ider on January 20th, 2011 7:22 pm

    I’m liking the Robertson signing. Considering what’s happened with DA and their lack of budget, getting shut out on Capuano and Francis, this isn’t bad.

    Kudos to GMZ.

  3. Jordan on January 20th, 2011 8:04 pm

    These are the types of signings that continue to move us toward the future and make us less bad in 11′. Hopefully, some of these no risk moves pan out; they certainly didn’t last year.

  4. Jordan on January 20th, 2011 8:14 pm

    Ooh now Z can flip Saunders and French for Harper and Strausburg. It could happen because we don’t know what Z has on their GM.

  5. Gritty Veteran Poster on January 20th, 2011 8:19 pm

    No way we include Saunders!! Maybe we could just throw Bradley in there instead.

  6. Chris_From_Bothell on January 20th, 2011 9:43 pm

    Z is serious about making the kids earn their playing time. yay, cheap depth. could do a lot worse, for this money.

  7. BenE on January 21st, 2011 12:19 am

    I love that Z seems to be trying to avoid looking like the 2009 Mets as much as possible by aquiring cheap, useful depth all over the diamond.

  8. Westside guy on January 21st, 2011 10:56 am

    Long-term, I want the M’s to win. For 2011, I just want a watchable team. I think this team sounds watchable – unlike the 2010 Mariners. And if these low-cost pickups don’t pan out… unlike Griffey, they’ll be easy to discard.

    I do expect to be cringing during Olivo’s at-bats though. I can take a low on-base percentage from a young guy, for a while – but not a “seasoned veteran”.

  9. Badbadger on January 21st, 2011 3:07 pm

    It’s the little things that…are all we get.

  10. Sports on a Schtick on January 21st, 2011 7:05 pm


  11. Breadbaker on January 21st, 2011 8:08 pm

    I commend you all to Dave’s spontaneous chat on the Wells trade on Fangraphs. One of the funniest of all time.

  12. Westside guy on January 21st, 2011 10:49 pm

    Breadbaker, you are SO right!

    I cannot fathom anyone taking on that contract. It could’ve been worse, I suppose – they could’ve traded for Zito – but man. Wells isn’t bad, I realize that – but for $20+ million a season you expect maybe a trifle more…

    The Angels must’ve hoped this one would fly under the radar, what with the Gerut/Robertson signing happening today.

  13. Axtell on January 23rd, 2011 2:18 am

    Seems like these are the types of moves to make everyone compete in spring training like Z was talking about. Strange how not having any money for payroll forces the team to make better decisions.

  14. Mister Baseball on January 24th, 2011 8:14 pm

    Nice to have distractions whilst in a death spiral, I suppose.

  15. bongo on January 25th, 2011 8:15 am

    Please. The Mariners are not in a death spiral. The team is where it is because it traded away its best young players for little or no return (Choo, Cabrera, Navarro, Thornton, Sherill, Tillman, Jones, Morrow, Morse). 2011 is a transitional year in which the team will rely on young talent (Moore, Pineda, Ackley, Saunders, Smoak), hopefully with better results. In 2012 when they get some of the albtross contracts off the books, the team will have a lot more flexibility.

  16. Westside guy on January 25th, 2011 9:48 am

    Yeah, the Angels should look at the Mariners for an example of what bad contracts can do for a team.

    Heck, the Angels should look at THEMSELVES – it’s not like this is their first dumb contract move *cough*Erstad*cough*.

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