The 50-man roster for the next two years

Mike Snow · August 9, 2011 at 8:29 am · Filed Under Mariners 

There’s been increasing talk about Jack Zduriencik’s future and whether his job will be on the line next season. At this point, we don’t know what the organization will really be shooting for in 2012, or what kind of budget they’ll be shooting with. The 17-game losing streak suggests that a lot more work is needed, while the respectable performance otherwise suggests that the team is tantalizingly close. Another way to look at things is to evaluate what Zduriencik has built (or rebuilt) and see how solid it looks, and after the trade deadline is a good opportunity for that.

Whether or not he gets five years to carry out his plan (not that it was meant to be a “five-year plan”), obviously it will take that long to see how some of the pickups in these deals mature. So I thought it would be good to consider the picture for the next two years, which includes some important transitional questions that a GM would need to anticipate and plan for. What follows is a sense of who’s currently in the organization and might play a significant role over that time frame. It’s not exactly a depth chart for each position, more a collection of who could end up helping fill different spots.

Since we’re talking about the future, the roster building is provisional and incomplete, of course. Only a couple spots are really solidly locked down, and more deals and signings will be needed to plug holes and upgrade positions, starting this winter. Part of this exercise is seeing what’s left if, say, you give up a particular player your trading partner really wants. Not everyone on the list will be part of the picture, as guys go away or get replaced. Some of the prospects would still need to make significant strides and their progress is uncertain, but there’s at least a scenario in which they might contribute.

Right Field

Ichiro: This position is no longer one we can realistically consider to be locked up long-term. Presumably Ichiro will hold onto it for the last year of his contract, but that only gets us to the beginnings of uncertainty. Will his performance recover, over the final months of this season or next year? Will ownership or fan sentiment require an extension even if he doesn’t recover, or at a price that isn’t warranted if he does? Will he decide to return to Japan to close out his career, like Sasaki and Johjima?

Casper Wells: For the first time since Ichiro has been around, the Mariners have someone with the kind of profile to look like a possible succession plan. His bat would look great in center, but his defensive performance would need to be the top percentile of what he’s capable of, and even then it wouldn’t make anybody forget Gutierrez or Cameron. In right, a guy who has moderate power, is capable defensively, and has a good arm would figure as a league-average player and offer the stereotypical skillset expected of the position.

Johermyn Chavez: Would need to make a tremendous leap forward in 2012, but could figure into the RF picture for 2013 if he does. More likely that he doesn’t pan out.

Carlos Peguero: Supposing (but not assuming) that his power potential someday materializes into a useful player at the major league level, putting him in right field rather than left may make more sense to hide his defensive liabilities, especially for Safeco.

Mike Wilson: Somewhat like Peguero, if he makes something of himself, this could be the best spot for him. Realistically, should be playing in Japan before Ichiro is.

Center Field

Franklin Gutierrez: Very hard to know what’s going on, and therefore to project what the future holds. To the extent the team is saying his stomach issues aren’t a problem, that could be a way of pushing him or it could be to cover for a guy playing through an “injury” as they’ve done with other players. The defense is still legitimately fantastic, so he seems fine in that regard. The complete disappearance of power is very worrisome as a lingering problem, though. Does he need an offseason where he can focus on recovering strength, as opposed to spending it chasing an accurate diagnosis? If he comes back next year and nothing has changed, what then?

Trayvon Robinson: Probably the answer to “what then?”

Greg Halman: Probably not the answer to “what then?” Needs extended playing time in Tacoma to see if he can harness his obvious physical gifts. Not having gotten much this year, he really should spend all of 2012 in AAA, except that he may be out of options.

Michael Saunders: This year seems like a lost season for his development due to a number of issues, including the death of his mother, and the timing is unfortunate (not that there’s a good time for such things). If it had come earlier in his progress when he was first trying to break into the majors, the team could have had patience with him, but patience has already been applied with his struggles to adjust in earlier years. Having to leave him to sink in the majors while filling in for Gutierrez, when everyone knew he should be in Tacoma, doesn’t help. He’s on here because he could still turn into a useful outfielder, but it’s unlikely to be for the Mariners.

Casper Wells: Listed here as an emergency option, since it’s been suggested he could be competent in center. The team doesn’t seem to be showing many signs of wanting to plug him in there, though, so that would indicate they will likely look elsewhere and leave Wells in a corner.

Left Field

Casper Wells: The best option for now, but assuming the front office wants to improve the offense, LF is probably the optimal place to carve out a spot for that, and if so it needs a bigger bat than this. Could hold down the spot temporarily if he’s groomed to take over for Ichiro in right.

Mike Carp: On a good team, he and Wells might make an interesting platoon. A decent hitter overall, but with him and Robinson both, some of their power may be a PCL creation (it’s not just Albuquerque or the new walls at Cheney, the offensive inflation is pervasive and as bad as the California League right now). Still quite stretched defensively in the outfield.

Carlos Peguero: Still much to learn.

Chih-Hsien Chiang: Check back in next year to see if he’s moving into the picture.

Vinnie Catricala: If he keeps hitting in the minors, Catricala is an intriguing option. The power potential is there. He has played other positions but is no defensive wizard, and in terms of how he would fit on this team, this is the spot that’s most likely.

Mike Wilson: His best chance is as the lefty-mashing half of a platoon, but he’s not the most likely candidate for it.

Matt Tuiasosopo: If you’ve forgotten, having concluded he should no longer try to play third or short, the club told him to focus on LF and 1B in spring training. The reason you may have forgotten is that his hitting in Tacoma still hasn’t merited any kind of consideration for a callup. Please feel free to resume your previous amnesia.


Brendan Ryan: Under contract for 2012. Still under team control in 2013, so he may well still be the starting shortstop then, unless somebody else forces their way past him. Even an arbitration salary shouldn’t be too massive of a burden in his case. If you’re wondering where Nick Franklin is on this list, Franklin will almost certainly need to go back to AA next year, then move up to Tacoma after that, so a September 2013 callup is about the most you’d see.

Luis Rodriguez: The team will need some kind of utility player, and he’s the closest fit of people who might still be around next year. In reality, it could be anybody.

Carlos Triunfel: Still plays mostly at shortstop, though people keep predicting he will move off. If he ends up contributing in 2013, let’s say, he has fewer hurdles here than at other positions. But serving as trade bait is at least as likely.

Third Base

Chone Figgins: Well, we’re looking out ahead to the next two years, and he’s still under contract for the next two years. The last straw to grasp at is that he might find himself by playing the kind of super-utility role he had when he first made a name for himself.

Kyle Seager: Not everybody can hit the ground running like Ackley. May be the best option in the system going forward, but since his profile looks better as a utility player, the front office should continue to approach third base as a hole that needs filling.

Alex Liddi: Because of his age and coming from a non-baseball country, Liddi may need a little longer to develop. Or he may just strike out too much to amount to anything. He’s in Tacoma now, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready.

Matt Mangini: Wow, I had just about forgotten Mangini was called up last year. Injuries have been an issue this year, and his glovework is still a concern.

Luis Rodriguez: Utility bench player placeholder.

Carlos Triunfel: While it’s long been thought Triunfel might shift here, the competition is significantly thicker.

Francisco Martinez: Immediately became the most promising high-level 3B prospect in the system, but still at least a year away. At 20, his age suggests good potential, but also that the organization may want to resist rushing him, and put him on a similar track to Franklin.

Nate Tenbrink: Kind of in the some boat as Johermyn Chavez, in that his performance has taken a step back and he’s being bypassed by newer guys in the system, so it would take a huge leap to get back on the right career trajectory.

Second Base

Dustin Ackley: The only position player who qualifies as a lock.

Luis Rodriguez: For the one game they decide to give Ackley a rest.

Kyle Seager: For the other game they decide to give Ackley a rest.

First Base

Justin Smoak: Things looked good enough early in the year to think the position was solved for a while. Some of what’s followed may be thumb issues, but the overall picture should temper our expectations about what Smoak will turn into. He comes cheap and can be good enough, but is unlikely to become a superstar at this point.

Mike Carp: Carp is more of a fall-back option if Smoak crashes and burns, but the gap between them is no longer so big that the possibility should be ruled out.

Rich Poythress: As a righthanded hitter whose value depends on power, it’s an open question whether he can be effective in Safeco Field.

Matt Mangini: Still seems best suited as a bat-first corner infield type that fits better on a National League roster, a la Greg Dobbs.

Matt Tuiasosopo: For anyone mourning that the Mariners gave up on Mike Morse, keep in mind that Tuiasosopo today is pretty much what Mike Morse was when they traded him. Sometimes that happens.


Miguel Olivo: We have one more year of Olivo to look forward to. After that – well, catchers don’t age well generally, and Olivo’s racking up a lot of miles.

Adam Moore: Unless they keep bringing Josh Bard back, in the grand tradition of Pat Borders and Jamie Burke, Moore is the only alternative. He has to make it back from his knee injury, then show he can hit in the majors.

Jose Yepez: The system has gone from being flush with catching prospects (not that any of them really panned out) to being totally barren. The team started restocking this year with the draft and the impending shift of Marcus Littlewood there, but none of them are in the upper minors yet or close to ready. That means there’s still no immediate depth beyond the emergency call-up that they weren’t going to play if they could help it.

Designated Hitter

Mike Carp: Assuming Smoak holds down first, this is really where Carp fits best. While his bat doesn’t play up that well at DH, it looks great compared to recent team history at the spot.

Johan Limonta: Minor league hitter without a real position.

Vinnie Catricala: With a crowd in the outfield, if his bat develops it could be squeezed in here.

Ichiro: This is a bit of a non-traditional option, but it might be an interesting way to handle Ichiro, as long as he’s not in the process of completely falling off a cliff. Ichiro has always been viewed as a kind of savant when it comes to hitting, with the notion that he could just keep doing much of the same stuff all the way to the end like a late-career Tony Gwynn. The biggest worry is about a loss of speed, and that may have factored in this year, but then again he’s still stealing bases as well as before. In trying to move from “he’s in a slump” to actual analysis, everybody has a theory, nobody has proof. His defense has definitely declined, though, and I wonder if playing the field isn’t dragging down his performance at the plate. Considering that he hits well when he does DH, perhaps that should be given more serious consideration to see if this is a good way to extend his career.


Felix Hernandez: The expense for his salary begins to get seriously large next year, which is one reason the Boston and New York media keep ginning up the notion that the Mariners would need to trade him. But even with a more expensive Felix, it’s just not possible those teams could come up with the kind of package that would justify such a trade.

Michael Pineda: Need to limit his innings this year and continue to watch him carefully after that.

Jason Vargas: Being in his arbitration years, he no longer has the kind of surplus value that enables a Fister-style trade, but Safeco remains ideal for his skillset. Even if you might not want to be on the other side of the free agent contract he may get, it doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate having him around until then.

Blake Beavan: What to make of the jump from Beavan in Tacoma vs. Beavan in Seattle? Part is luck (stranding runners) and small sample sizes, part is the offensive environment of the PCL having gone to another level of crazy this year, part may be a “first time around the league” effect. Whatever it is, clearly trading Doug Fister becomes a whole lot easier if you conclude that you have a reasonable facsimile waiting to step in.

Charlie Furbush: Fifth starter for now, but after trading from the rotation to bolster the offense, this is a spot where more competition is needed. Furbush is hopefully not another Luke French, but I’m also a bit wary of guys known for deceptive deliveries, in case the deceptiveness wears off.

Anthony Vasquez, Erasmo Ramirez: When projecting future roster developments using guys in the minors, especially pitchers, it’s sometimes easier to lump players into rough categories, on the theory that “one of these guys could make it and potentially fill [some particular role].” These two are the prospects closest to the majors who might fill a rotation vacancy, and in fact Vasquez was speculated about for the start Furbush got. They’re pretty much limited to the back end of the rotation and don’t have the kind of upside associated with future aces.

James Paxton, Danny Hultzen (assuming he signs): If you use the archetypes associated with each rotation starter ranked 1-2-3-4-5, then based on what we’ve seen so far the biggest void is somewhere in the middle of that. Paxton or Hultzen are decent possibilities to slide into that gap once they’re ready, and of course they’re supposed to have potential above that. Just keep pitching prospect attrition in mind before you start counting up how many aces the team will be able to run out back-to-back-to-back-to-back.


David Aardsma, Brandon League: Since managers like to plug bullpen pitchers into predefined roles, lumping guys together makes sense here as well. We start with the veteran closers. The Mariners shouldn’t need two, and the effect of the save stat on salary and reputation makes trading them at or near peak value the wiser course, combined with developing their successors within the system. In this case, peak trading opportunities have already passed by. That’s not the end of the world, considering the return J.J. Putz brought after an injury-plagued season, but then again, you won’t always have Omar Minaya to trade with.

Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke: Young and hard-throwing and therefore the kind of material that might turn into the next closer.

Shawn Kelley, Aaron Laffey, Jeff Gray: Guys who are established relievers of some sort.

Charlie Furbush, Luke French: Marginal starters who could move to the bullpen. Sometimes these guys turn into David Pauley, sometimes they turn into Garrett Olson.

Mauricio Robles, Tom Wilhelmsen: Pitchers who are being worked with in the minors as starters, but if they have much of an impact during the time frame being examined here, then it will probably be as a result of a move to the bullpen. Technically, Wilhelmsen is in the Mariner bullpen now, but that will only last until Kelley is ready to come off the disabled list.

Cesar Jimenez, Stephen Pryor, Brian Moran: Minor league bullpen guys who are somewhat close. At this point, we’re pretty much talking about random arms appearing or disappearing out of nowhere, so the names aren’t critical. Pryor looks like the best bet at the moment to move up into one of the other groups above.


53 Responses to “The 50-man roster for the next two years”

  1. philosofool on August 9th, 2011 8:45 am

    Is Franklin really not on schedule till late 2013? This organization seems pretty ready to promote a guy quickly once they think he’s ready. (See Michael Pineda; by the way, I don’t mean to imply that Franklin is a prospect on Pineda’s level.) My impression coming into the season was that Franklin started in high A because they wanted to start Triunfel daily at SS in AA. Franklin’s eventual promotion to AA was probably a forgone conclusion that just awaited Triunfel’s move to Tacoma. That conclusion is supported by the fact that Franklin was promoted despite a poor showing at High Desert.

    Given that he had mono and about three other issues this year, the possibility that he turns it around in a hurry is real. I could see the M’s getting him to AAA by June or July of 2012 and giving him a serious look for the 2013 opening day roster. Of course, you have to believe that he has the arm for the left side of the infield not to be blocked.

  2. philosofool on August 9th, 2011 8:49 am

    Also, I take it Taijuan Walker is off this list because he won’t arrive before 2014?

  3. tres_arboles on August 9th, 2011 9:01 am

    For anyone mourning that the Mariners gave up on Mike Morse, keep in mind that Tuiasosopo today is pretty much what Mike Morse was when they traded him.

    Wow. A little overreaching there; maybe for effect or something? Morse was a bat-first prospect looking for a position. He was always headed where he is now at the plate. Tui? Never.

  4. nadingo on August 9th, 2011 9:12 am

    This is a fantastic post. Thanks for doing this! Since we haven’t had a Future 40 update in years, it’s great to have this kind of big-picture synthesis to get a sense of what the team’s future may hold (based on what we know right now, at least).

  5. Mike Snow on August 9th, 2011 9:19 am

    With Franklin, a kid out of high school going to a full-season league the year after he’s drafted is already aggressive, although you would hope a first-rounder can pull it off. Going straight from there to AA the next year would have been even more aggressive, so I don’t think ultimately they were just holding him back because of Triunfel. A bigger consideration is reducing the distortions and bad habits that High Desert can produce, which may be part of why they got him out of there early. Putting him in the majors to start 2013, or even as a delayed callup like Ackley, is counting on another aggressive promotion in there. It’s not impossible that it could happen, but at some point stacking aggressive promotions on top of each other turns into the way Bill Bavasi handled Matt Tuiasosopo.

    With Taijuan Walker, even 2014 would require that he stay completely healthy and they minimize his exposure to High Desert. Otherwise, think of him as moving at most one level, one year at a time.

  6. NateTheGreat on August 9th, 2011 9:25 am

    I don’t get the Tuiasosopo to Mike Morse comparison at all. Mike Morse was always able to hit he just couldn’t field. Tuiasosopo has never shown the ability to hit that Morse did.

  7. gwangung on August 9th, 2011 9:30 am

    I don’t get the Tuiasosopo to Mike Morse comparison at all. Mike Morse was always able to hit he just couldn’t field.

    Really? My recollection was that he was NOT considered a hitter and certainly did not have any power. Platoon player at best and pretty much a light hitter.

  8. Mike Snow on August 9th, 2011 9:36 am

    Morse had shown more flashes of hitting for average than Tuiasosopo, but that’s the only big difference. He was on the same fourth tour of Tacoma, and there were the same kinds of questions about whether he’d ever actually demonstrate the power he was supposed to have the potential for. They were both bat-first prospects in part because they aren’t great in the field, so their bats would need to carry them, but it wasn’t at all clear that their bats would in fact carry them.

  9. Evan on August 9th, 2011 9:36 am

    I like the Ichiro as DH idea. Remember how his hitting suffered when he played CF – his energy level seems to be very important to his hitting.

    I would love to see Ichiro as DH more often (or even all of the time). I really do think he’d hit better.

  10. bat guano on August 9th, 2011 9:47 am

    Fun read. Thanks. Seems like Kelley is getting a little shortchanged here though (vis a vis Lueke and Cortes). Isn’t he the most likely to slip into a late inning role if Aardsma or League is dealt? Also, I realize Pimentel is a long way off, but it seems like there’s some chance he could arrive in 2013, so maybe he deserves a brief mention as a potential solution in left.

  11. NateTheGreat on August 9th, 2011 9:48 am

    Tui is hitting .230 something while the rest of the league is averaging far higher. Pegeuro is hitting .100 points higher than he is.
    Morse Showed a lot more promise than Tui ever has. When Morse was called up he hit well too. Tui not so much. Its not a good comparison.

  12. asuray on August 9th, 2011 10:04 am

    At the time Morse was traded (June 28th of the season he turned 27), he had put up a career 285/330/443 AAA line in 1,044 PA. As of yesterday, Tui has a career 258/361/433 AAA line in 1,410 PA (Tui is in his year 25 season). As Mike mentioned, Morse had shown a little more contact ability, while Tui has the advantage in discipline. Both were/are fairly even in power. Given the numbers, I think one would have a hard time arguing that Morse “was always headed” for a .396 wOBA in the major leagues. Tui’s career MLB batted ball profile is similar to Morse’s (slightly lower LD rate and significantly lower HR/FB rate for Tui). The big difference in the disparity between their respective performances is Tui’s career .244 BABIP compared to Morse’s .359 (.378 this season!).

  13. NateTheGreat on August 9th, 2011 10:14 am

    So with the stats you just showed Morse clearly showed more promise. Of course you have failed to bring up there stints in the majors for some reason(possibly because Tui showed no ability to hit major league pitchers whatsoever).
    Also I would think it would be interesting to see what Mike Morses average compared to league average was next to Tui’s. Because everyone in the PCL is hitting this year as has been mentioned before yet Tui is only managing a .230 average.
    In short Morse performed better and showed better potential than Tui ever has.

  14. asuray on August 9th, 2011 10:17 am

    The only players with higher BABIPs since Morse (.359, 1,080 PA) broke into the majors in 2005 (minimum 500 PA) are Austin Jackson (.376, 1,130 PA), David Freese (.374, 516 PA), and Chris Dickerson (.367, 558 PA). Freddie Freeman is also at .359 through 485 PA. All of those numbers are unsustainable, though one could argue that Jackson and Dickerson could reasonably be expected to put up better-than-league-average BABIPs given their speed. I would argue that a good portion of Morse’s career 303/360/493 line can be attributed to luck, as he has put up a close to league average batted ball profile.

  15. shortbus on August 9th, 2011 10:19 am

    Thanks for mentioning Johan Limonta, Mike. Looking at his numbers he appears to be a guy that can get on base, consistently running OBP’s in the .360-.390 range. He’s also consistently hit for average with a bit of power. What makes him a guy that can’t get a sniff on one of the worst-hitting teams in the majors? And one that has an opening at DH?

    I have no investment in Limonta, I’m just curious how a guy with his numbers doesn’t rate a shot. What makes him a “minor-league” hitter? I always thought that referred to guys who had contact problems and struck out a lot.

  16. Mike Snow on August 9th, 2011 10:21 am

    Regardless of the merits of the argument, I must admit I didn’t expect that when looking at the state of the system, comparing Tuiasosopo with Morse would be the thing that got the most attention.

  17. asuray on August 9th, 2011 10:22 am

    So with the stats you just showed Morse clearly showed more promise. Of course you have failed to bring up there stints in the majors for some reason(possibly because Tui showed no ability to hit major league pitchers whatsoever).

    How did you get that from the numbers I quoted? Tui’s career AAA OPS is higher than what Morse’s was at the time he was traded, even though Morse had an extra year or two of development under his belt. Both had pretty close to league average batted ball profiles (Morse’s LD rate was a little better as was his HR/FB rate). Per my previous post, most of what Morse has put up in the majors, especially at the time he was traded, was driven by an unsustainable BABIP. At the time he was traded, Morse’s career MLB BABIP was near .400. Ty Cobb’s career BABIP was only .372. Morse currently has the same career BABIP as Rod Carew. Are you going to argue that Morse has similar BABIP skills as Carew?

  18. Valenica on August 9th, 2011 10:25 am

    A 27 year old, no position prospect who posts one good year thanks to a .378 BABIP is better than a 25 year old prospect with better discipline (which translates to the MLB much better than AVG) and equivalent power. I regret trading Morse as much as anyone but that is ridiculous.

  19. Mike Snow on August 9th, 2011 10:32 am

    About Limonta, I didn’t mean “minor-league hitter” to suggest that’s all he can possibly be, it’s just a description of where he is right now: he’s in the minor leagues and “hitter” is more defining than the position he plays. As far as his numbers and his prospect status, he defected from Cuba and is significantly older (just turned 28). His performance against younger competition probably gets discounted a bit, he is what he is and there’s not much physical projection, and his power is pretty minimal for a lineup spot where power is traditionally expected (the lack of projection doesn’t help there).

  20. NateTheGreat on August 9th, 2011 10:37 am

    In the end you can watch a baseball game and see if someone is capable of hitting major league hitting or not. Morse clearly had an ability to actually hit the ball Tui has shown no such promise.
    Just because Tui generated a few more walks than Morse does not mean he had shown ANY ability to actually hit the ball on a consistent basis.
    I’m not saying I thought Morse would be as good as he is this year I am arguing the statement that Tui has shown as much ability or potential as Morse had which is a quite a stretch imo.

  21. gwangung on August 9th, 2011 10:43 am

    Morse clearly had an ability to actually hit the ball

    He clearly did not. BABIP.

    Your memory is playing tricks on you.

  22. asuray on August 9th, 2011 10:46 am

    I don’t think either player is very good. Given league average luck, I think both would be bench/platoon players. Morse’s career MLB line, adjusted for a .300 BABIP, which is probably generous given his lack of speed, would be around 260/300/437, which basically makes him a slightly worse version of Jorge Cantu. In three years, when he is 28, I think Tui could probably manage that batting line.

  23. NateTheGreat on August 9th, 2011 10:54 am

    You call it luck I call it being able to put the bat on the ball and drive it hard. Will his average go down? Probably, though I don’t think it would dip that low.

    “I think Tui could probably manage that batting line.”

    Based on what? He is hitting .230 in a league with highly inflated stats. He can’t even match Saunders average there.
    I’m not seeing were you are getting the idea that Tui can do anything in the majors. Especially considering how bad he was when he came up.

  24. coasty141 on August 9th, 2011 11:06 am

    “Morse’s career MLB line, adjusted for a .300 BABIP, which is probably generous given his lack of speed”

    Why would you adjust his BABIP line to .300? For his major league career Morse is 14th all time in highest BABIP for hitter with over 1000 plate appearances. Do you round up guys like Jeff Mathis BABIP to .300 as well?

  25. maqman on August 9th, 2011 11:34 am

    I hope the team will not be tendering Aardsma a contract for next season. After his TJ surgery he’s not going to be able to do much until the last half of the season and probably not do it well then.

  26. Westside guy on August 9th, 2011 12:45 pm

    An interesting read – it helped me wrap my head around the team’s situation going forward. My thinking along those lines usually tends to be vague (ACKLEY and PINEDA and FELIX… and some other guys…).

    Thank you very much for writing this up, Mike!

  27. BLYKMYK44 on August 9th, 2011 12:48 pm

    Do you have to pay a fee to join the Mike Morse fan club? If so, do you get a pin or a sticker with the monthly newsletter? LOL…

  28. Westside guy on August 9th, 2011 12:51 pm

    BTW there are a few dozen other people listed in the story besides Tui and Morse. Since it’s unlikely anyone on either side of the argument is going to convince the other, and Morse isn’t in our system in any case – could you just agree to disagree and move on to the other 49 guys?

  29. just a fan on August 9th, 2011 1:49 pm

    It seems Furbush is the perfect 5th starter heading into next year. Probably good enough to get by as a starter (especially at Safeco), but it will be easy to shift him to the bullpen if either Hultzen or Paxton is ready to start mid-season.

  30. jordan on August 9th, 2011 2:44 pm

    BABIP is not a tell all stat.. so stop treating it like one. If a player rips line drives all day he is not lucky if his average is high. That is hitting skill

  31. bookbook on August 9th, 2011 2:59 pm

    Neither Morse nor Tui is a likely part of the M’s future. It’d be neat if we could agree on that, and move on to debating whether Catricala or Wells or Chaing or Robinson or Carp is likely to break out and provide some offensive charge to go with a fairly promising pitching core plus Ackley.

  32. MangoLiger on August 9th, 2011 3:06 pm

    Just throwing this out there, Re: Mike Morse’s BABIP.

    While speed is generally correlated to BABIP skill (R=0.29 for BABIP vs Spd for players w > 2000 PA), it is not the only factor. Even slow players can have good BABIP skill. See for example:

    Manny Ramirez = 0.338 in 9774 PA
    Mo Vaughn = 0.338 in 6410 PA
    Edgar Martinez = 0.335 in 8672 PA
    Jack Cust = 0.335 in 2581 PA

    It’s not out of the question that Mike Morse’s true talent BABIP might be ~0.330.

  33. asuray on August 9th, 2011 3:10 pm

    Expected BABIP can be reasonably predicted from a batter’s speed and ability to post a high line drive rate. I wouldn’t adjust someone like Mathis’s BABIP because his skill set (speed, line drive rate, etc.) doesn’t indicate that he would be expected to put up a BABIP any better than he has. If Morse were actually capable of “ripping line drives all day” then I would have more faith in his current BABIP (though I’m hoping that no one here actually believes that Morse has some of the best BABIP skills in the history of baseball). Since Morse is slow and has put up barely better than a league average line drive rate over the course of his career (19.1% compared to a league average of around 18.5%), I feel that adjusting his numbers down to a .300 BABIP is probably close to accurate.

  34. The_Waco_Kid on August 9th, 2011 3:20 pm

    Wedge needs to play Seager every day. Kennedy has been awful lately and we need to see if Seager is a viable 3B/trade chip for next year. I’m guessing he needs more AAA time, but let’s not leave him on the bench.

  35. asuray on August 9th, 2011 3:20 pm

    Sorry for the double post. My phone is on the fritz. I’m willing to bet the those legendary hitters with the high BABIPs that were mentioned all put up nice line drive rates. Morse’s is only average. I also agree that this argument has prb run it’s course as neither Tui nor Morse is of much consequence for the Mariners, or the rest of baseball going forward.

  36. MangoLiger on August 9th, 2011 3:25 pm

    Per the THT xBABIP calculator, Mike Morse’s xBABIP is 0.328, which means a 50% regression is called for, rather than a 100% regression.

  37. jordan on August 9th, 2011 3:27 pm

    Asuray… Good points in your post. I am just tired of people soley looking at BABIP and making conclusions from it. Obviously you don’t do that, though.

  38. Chris_From_Bothell on August 9th, 2011 3:33 pm

    I would love to see Ichiro as DH more often (or even all of the time). I really do think he’d hit better.

    Me too. Especially for the lineup problems it might solve too. Isn’t it easier to find a right fielder with above average offense and decent health, either in the M’s system or in trade, than it is to find a DH? Grab-a-guy-who-can’t-field doesn’t seem to work for the M’s for DHs, ever since Edgar left… either they can’t produce, can’t stay healthy or both.

  39. monkey on August 9th, 2011 3:37 pm

    Wow who cares about Morse vs. Tui??? One is gone the other isn’t much to be excited about.

    I’m far more interested in things that actually matter myself…

    Speaking of things that actually matter, I didn’t get a sense from reading this that any of the pitching prospects, at least any of the ones with seemingly legit, big time potential, were anywhere near close to the bigs yet.

    I know that a lot of scouts are pretty high on Walker and Paxton right now at least, and during the draft, I kept hearing that Hultzen could be major league ready quite soon once he signs (maybe as soon as just two years some have speculated); so my question is, just how far away are they respectively? Which is the closest at this point? (Realizing of course that things can change literally overnight.)

    I’m interested in a few of our position prospects, but at present it seems that our real hopes for the future lies in the arms we have in the system, they seem to be the ones with the most real upside, so I am VERY curious as to how long realistically it will be before we can expect help from any of them.

    With a GM, who I like quite a bit, and think has done an admirable job of at least getting a solid start on rebuilding the system top to bottom, who is nearing the end of his contract; I’d like to see enough things start popping that Z can get some kind of extension.

    I worry that not only will he not be here to see what he started begin to really pay off, but whoever we replace him with, will be brought here to hurry things along at the big league level, at the cost of the future.

    It happens too often in sports, that while a team is in the middle of rebuilding, (or in our case, hopefully getting nearer the end of it…this offseason should tell us quite a bit more with bad contracts finally coming off the books); the fan base loses interest, ticket sales fall off completely, and the team starts making desperate, and ultimately stupid short term moves to try and create interest.

    My point is, I like what Z has done so far and want to see him stick around a bit longer, but if this club doesn’t start producing results, and showing some real progress from the prospects soon, I don’t think Z will be here much longer fair or not.
    So is there legitimate relief/help coming soon, or will it likely be a ways off yet?

  40. jordan on August 9th, 2011 4:22 pm

    Paxton could be here as soon as next year..

  41. eponymous coward on August 9th, 2011 4:34 pm

    It happens too often in sports, that while a team is in the middle of rebuilding, (or in our case, hopefully getting nearer the end of it…this offseason should tell us quite a bit more with bad contracts finally coming off the books)

    The M’s are spending ~94 million this year, a bit more than last year.

    Their payroll obligations for 2012 are $58 million.

    This doesn’t include arbitration on League or Vargas (Aardsma will not get a lot if we keep him, but he will get more than the minimum). Figure our arbitration-eligibles will cost another 10 million. So we’re at 68 million.

    Assuming we fill out the rest of the 13 spots on the roster with MLB minimums ($414K), which is almost certainly a false assumption, that’s another 5 million and change. Subtract from 94 million, and you get just over 20 million.

    So what this means is, for the umpteenth time in the umpteenth season of hearing “OMG we will have SOOOOO much money this offseason”, there is NO huge windfall from expiring contracts unless the Mariners decide to expand the budget dramatically (and given the pratfall this year, good luck with that- atttendance this fall will be horrible). We already spent some of our windfall, or will spend it on current players: Felix is getting a huge raise in 2012. Guti’s getting a raise. Olivo’s getting a raise. Realistically, Vargas and League are getting raises.

    Under the current budget, we’ll likely have enough money to take on one decent sized (8-10 million) contract for a starter, and various role players making a few millions, barring something like a League/Vargas swap for cheaptastic AAA players. So, basically, GMZ will get another chance to sign a Chone Figgins kind of player (or do something similar to take on that level of salary in trade), and hopefully he won’t screw this one up… but I wouldn’t hold hold out much more hope than that.

  42. G-Man on August 9th, 2011 5:55 pm

    Regardless of the merits of the argument, I must admit I didn’t expect that when looking at the state of the system, comparing Tuiasosopo with Morse would be the thing that got the most attention.

    I understand your feeling, Mike. I read it as just an offhand comment, but it’s one that a number of people disagree with, hence, it got some legs.

    Is there any reasonable good intel about what Ichiro thinks of DH’ing? I tend to think Ichiro usually gets what he wants, and he rarely DH’s, hence he doesn’t care for it. But his 200 hits/year seems all-important, so I think he might be more interested in it going forward. His defense isn’t the clear GG stuff that it used to be, for whatever reason, so we wouldn’t give up as much there now.

  43. asuray on August 9th, 2011 7:22 pm

    Per the THT xBABIP calculator, Mike Morse’s xBABIP is 0.328, which means a 50% regression is called for, rather than a 100% regression.

    THT has an xBABIP calculator? Is it a subscription feature? What are the inputs? I don’t have a calculator handy, but I’m guessing that a .328 BABIP would put Morse’s numbers somewhere around .280/.320/.450. Looking at 2009-2011 comps, that bumps him up into Casey McGehee territory.

  44. TherzAlwaysHope on August 9th, 2011 9:14 pm

    Must read:

    In short, the M’s are printing money. They could contend if they were willing to spend the dough. They can also continue to fool us the “rebuilding myth.”

  45. eponymous coward on August 10th, 2011 3:03 am

    Well, actually, no. That piece doesn’t say what you think it says. It doesn’t even say what Geoff Baker thinks it says.

    “So, while a payroll of $93.5 million sounds like a lot, it really isn’t in this day and age. The M’s get more fans at games than the Pirates and Blue Jays do. They are paying $18 million to one player, which neither the Pirates nor Blue Jays do.

    Take away Chone Figgins, Jack Wilson and Milton Bradley — guys who have barely contributed at all this year — and you’re looking at a payroll of $67.5 million. That’s without even accounting for Ichiro.

    The M’s rolled the dice a bit in 2008. They took the on-field payroll $30 million higher than what it is right now (not counting money for guys already gone), had about the worst season imaginable and lost $4.5 million. Yes, that’s a lot of money. But it’s not franchise-crippling. Most of it has already been made back in the two seasons since. And it’s off accumulated overall franchise value in the deep nine figures.”

    The reason why Milton Bradley is on the roster this year (for 5.5 million more than it would have cost to just dump Carlos Silva)? Jack Zduriencik wanted him. You can’t blame Bill Bavasi for that one. The reason Chone Figgins is on the roster? Same reason. Jack Wilson? Same reason. We blew a couple of million on Casey Kotchman last year, and it was a DIFFERENT organization that finally figured out what was wrong with him- which didn’t help us in 2010. Jack Cust? Another few million blown on a guy that Eric Wedge gave up on in June.

    But what this is all saying is that in 2008, and again in 2011, the Mariners had millions and millions of dead salary on the books that didn’t help the team win. So we have direct evidence that “They could contend if they were willing to spend the dough” is wrong. Spending money only guarantees that you’re spending money. If you screw up millions of dollars of payroll decisions, you don’t win.

    So it’s not just “spend money”. It’s “spend money on the right players”. And I’ll be blunt: take the above players and add in Olivo (who’s not particularly good, or even particularly mediocre, if not a train wreck), and it’s chutzpah on a “I’d like to throw myself on the mercy of the court for murdering my parents, and besides, I’m an orphan” level to go to your bosses and say “I need another 30 million for this year’s team” when you just got through a year of wasting 30 million in dead salary on a bad team. This is arguably a weaker spot for Zduriencik when you look at his overall record: figuring out which veterans to spend bucks on. It’s much weaker than his deals and drafts.

    So, my take? Part of the reason GMZ will be limited in 2012 is his own fault. I don’t think his bosses would be making a mistake by going “let’s see him actually get some moves right with the 20 million or so he’ll have in 2012 before we hand him more cash. At some point, his process needs to lead to results… so let’s see some results on the field before he can expect more cash”. I don’t think his track record so far has earned a boost in payroll- and yes, I know Bavasi sucked, but the reason why he GOT that payroll boost in 2008? His 2007 team won enough games to make the argument. And this is another reason why Dave’s point about “the 2011 team has to not be terrible” was dead-on: not being terrible makes a better case that a reasonable boost in payroll could pay off.

  46. eponymous coward on August 10th, 2011 3:18 am

    Oh, and one other thing: if Guti and Ichiro are performing like two guys making 20+ million between the two of them should perform, and putting out the numbers on the back of their baseball cards, instead of like how they are in 2011, the 2011 team is “not so terrible”. But they aren’t. So that’s where we are now.

  47. bookbook on August 10th, 2011 5:51 am

    Eponymous, your points are taken. Yet Olivo has been worth his salary and Cust would have had Wedge played him when he was recovered from his godawful April.

    Most teams have some dead salary on their hands, though not so much as we do, perhaps.

  48. TherzAlwaysHope on August 10th, 2011 7:40 am

    Eponymous: here is the key quote:
    “Instead of hiring a better GM than Bill Bavasi and letting him see what he could do with a similar payroll, the M’s went back to their low-risk approach of spending just enough to break even.

    Instead of finishing the job for Jack Zduriencik in 2009 after his bold trade for Cliff Lee, it forced him to go out and spend a pittance on guys like Ryan Garko, Eric Byrnes and Mike Sweeney. Forced him to throw good money after bad on Milton Bradley, hoping to catch lightining in a bottle.

    The M’s could have tried to contend that off-season of 2009-2010. But they didn’t spend more than was needed to break even.

    Same thing this past winter. Dustin Ackley could have been this year’s Buster Posey and been the catalyst towards a playoff berth. But the M’s had already decided ahead of time they were not going to compete in 2011 and did not try to make any bold free-agent additions last winter.”

    He is making a larger statement about how all of MLB is currently operating. The perennial contenders are not playing Moneyball because it does not work anymore. They are contenders because the go out and reload. The M’s could choose to be a contender; they are not a small market team.

    Read his other two articles:

  49. eponymous coward on August 10th, 2011 10:42 am

    I’ve read Baker’s stuff. I’m not convinced.

    First, Zduriencik got a chance to add a bold free agent addition in the 2009-2010 offseason. He chose Chone Figgins as his addition. He was also able to sign Gutierrez to a deal that gave him some decent cash. He got a chance to sign Felix to a deal for really good cash. He had a chance to add Cliff Lee. So it’s not like he’s been told “you’re not allowed to spend any money ever”.

    Secondly, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to look at the record of free agent acquisitions this franchise has made over the past few years and go: “gee, we wasted a lot of money here”. So why should management have confidence that good money isn’t being sent after bad? When there’s a considerable amount of dead salary on a roster that is there because YOU wanted it there, it’s pretty cheeky to go “yeah, I know we wasted money on Milton Bradley, Jack Wilson and so on, but the problem is you didn’t give me enough money”.

    I see it this way: Jack will have 20 million to play with this offseason if they hold the budget stable, and there’s no excuses for “Bavasi screwed us with a bad contract” now. I don’t think the Mariners are light-years away: we’re considerably better in the amount of cost-controlled young talent in the system than when GMZ got here, in no small part because of his astute decisions in trades (Consider this: Carp, Beavan, Furbush are all THROWINS, not the primary object of the trade… and they’re situated to play major parts in the 2012 team. That’s good trading).

    So, $20 million, check. Young top notch talent (Felix, Pineda, Ackley), check. Reasonable talent in kids, check. I am not thinking this organization is light-years away from being decent. What is needed are good decisions in 2012 with what to do with that 20 million, and less Chone Figgins “whoops, we screwed that one up”. Once that happens and there’s an actual decent team out there, then you can start making the case of “MOAR SALARY PLZ”.

  50. puppyfoot on August 10th, 2011 2:12 pm

    I love the BABIP fanatics: to you a two bouncer to second is the same thing as a double off the wall in the gap. Hey, they’re both BIP’s and the weak bouncer was just unlucky and the gapper was lucky. If that’s the theory the FO is following, no wonder the M’s are the worst team in baseball and have been for some time. Right, Mike Carp, with the highest BA on the team and the second best OBP is maybe a platoon player. There are just too many great bats ahead of him on the M’s.

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