The Roster As It Stands

Dave · October 5, 2011 at 11:10 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Before we get too far into discussing what moves the team should be looking to make this winter, we need to take a realistic assessment of what talent is already on hand, both for 2012 and beyond, as the inventory already here will dictate where the organization should focus on acquiring upgrades. While the team has enough quantity in place to go forward with a “let the kids fight it out and see who wins” strategy, there’s not enough quality already in place to make that a viable strategy at every position. In reality, the M’s are going to have to make some decisions this winter about which of these kids should be part of the 2012 team, and at the positions where there isn’t a good solution internally, they’ll need to make some moves to bring in talent from the outside.

Given what’s already here, this is how I would view the team’s roster for next year in terms of reasonable expected amounts of playing time if the team is interested in putting a respectable team on the field.

Position – Player – Plate Appearances

Catcher: Empty
First Base: Justin Smoak – 600
Second Base: Dustin Ackley – 600
Shortstop: Brendan Ryan – 500
Third Base: Empty
Left Field: Casper Wells – 200
Center Field: Franklin Gutierrez – 600
Right Field: Ichiro Suzuki – 600
Designated Hitter: Mike Carp – 200

Reserve Catcher: Miguel Olivo – 250
Reserve 1B: Mike Carp – 100
Reserve MI: Luis Rodriguez – 200
Reserve IF: Kyle Seager – 200
Reserve OF: Casper Wells – 100

By my estimation, those 10 position players should be penciled in for approximately 4,100 plate appearances. A normal team gets about 6,100 plate appearances in a season, so the M’s are about 2,000 PA short. That’s basically three full-time players – no easy task to acquire in one off-season.

Looking at the chart above, it’s easy to see where the holes are. Catcher and third base are the biggest holes, and the only two options on the Major League roster are both better fits for a reserve role. Olivo’s a decent enough back-up and Seager could be a useful utility infielder who backs up everyone around the infield, but if either of them are starting on opening day next year, the team likely has a problem.

The other open position is something of a hybrid between LF/DH. Wells has enough talent to justify a job as the right-handed half of an LF platoon and could likely serve as the team’s backup in CF and RF, but he hasn’t shown enough to be expected to be a full-time player. The rest of the left fielders we saw on display this year belong in the minors next year, and I wouldn’t be comfortable giving any of them a job on the 2012 team at this point.

With Carp and Wells both penciled in for part-time jobs, the team could acquire one guy who could split time between LF and DH, and the three of them could essentially combine to handle those two positions. Knowing that they’d have some DH availability could give the team the flexibility to pursue a guy who might not be a great defender but has enough offense to make up for it.

If the team added three starting caliber players – one at C, one at 3B, and one at LF/DH – to that group of position players, you could actually have the makings of a decent group of talent.

Now, for the pitching.

#1 Starter – Felix Hernandez
#2 Starter – Michael Pineda
#3 Starter – Jason Vargas
#4 Starter – Empty
#5 Starter – Blake Beavan

Closer – Brandon League
RH Setup – Tom Wilhelmsen
LH Setup – Charlie Furbush
Middle – Shawn Kelley
Middle – Chance Ruffin
Middle – Josh Lueke
Long – Empty

Despite all the talk about pitching depth, the M’s actually have some problems on the pitching staff as well. Danny Hultzen and James Paxton are talented kids, and they might be options for the rotation in the second half of 2012, but you can’t count on them being able to carry a spot all season long. Behind Vargas, the team doesn’t really have any quality Major League starters, and they’ll likely need to add an starter this winter to fill out the rotation.

The bullpen could be mostly set except for one small fact – the team should be looking to trade Brandon League. Closers are generally overvalued, and headed into his final year before free agency, the M’s would be better off moving him and using his roughly $5 million salary elsewhere. Of course, they’re unlikely to hand the closer role over to any of the kids currently penciled into the setup roles right now, so moving League might necessitate a move for a reliever with a bit more experience who could be given the chance to close.

Put it all together, and the team is probably looking at needing to acquire a third baseman, a catcher, an LF/DH type, a starting pitcher, and maybe a solid reliever who they could make into a closer. Even if they move League and shed his salary, they’re still looking at something in the $20 million range in terms of budget flexibility, and they’d be looking at getting four players and a reliever for that.

Obviously, just targeting free agents and throwing money at them isn’t going to work – you can’t get four Major League regulars and a potential closer for $20 million on the open market. The only way to get that kind of quantity of talent from the outside is to focus on trading for players whose salaries are not set by public bidding. Of course, teams aren’t exactly looking to move their cost-controlled young stars, so the M’s will have to get creative to pick up players who can fill these holes without busting the budget.

Over the next week or so, I’ll talk about a few of the guys I’d like to see the team target who could fit that profile, and what types of players they might be able to land to fill those spots and stay under budget.


116 Responses to “The Roster As It Stands”

  1. djw on October 7th, 2011 8:01 pm

    a declining RF who even when he had great OBP didn’t do much for the M’s in the win/lose category.

    In his first 10 years with the Mariners, Ichiro Suzuki averaged roughly 5.3 WAR per season. For that 10 year stretch, there are two players who were more valuable: Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriquez.

    But you–you’ve figured out the flaw in WAR. There is something wrong with this formula, and it’s inflating Ichiro Suzuki’s value. I very much hope you’ll someday share your pathbreaking analysis with the rest of us.

  2. SODOMOJO360 on October 7th, 2011 9:38 pm

    If you’re wanting to get more pop out of 3B or LF just be prepared for it to cost a lot, because power in those positions aren’t easy to pry away from other teams, and we sure as hell aren’t going to be signing them in free agency.

    That’s why we should give Liddi a chance at 3rd. Seager is a 2nd baseman and needs to be traded. We have no pop in RF, SS, CF so we need some pop at 3rd. I know Liddi strikes out a bunch and might not be ready but maybe platoon him with Seager at 3rd at least. Liddi looked OK on defense and showed good power in his limited AB’s at the end of the season.

  3. groundzero55 on October 7th, 2011 9:47 pm

    If Liddi can find a way to get on base and strike out less than 40% of the time, I’m with you.

    If not, I’ll stick with Seager.

  4. jjracoon on October 8th, 2011 1:32 am

    You’re nuts, dude. If Ichiro’s decline is real, the fans aren’t going to want to see him ever again after 2012. I’d much rather have a winning team than take up a valuable starting roster spot with a guy who might break a record. I could give a crap about 3,000 hits, man. I want a winning team. And if Ichiro continues to suck in 2012 like he did this year, there’s zero reason for us to bring him back. Zero.

    You must be referring to rabid bloggers rather than the everyday go to a game or two a year fan.
    People are looking for heroes and since Edgar left there havent been a lot. Ichiro has filled that role and I am guessing if a poll was run to the general public as to keeping Ichiro around for a few more years, the vote would be in favor.
    Do I think 12 million is too much?? Yes but where the market is, I dont forsee him being much cheaper.

    If it wasnt for his salary then he would still be okay since his he was one of the top three hitters on team. Not much to be proud of but not an issue right now until other issues are fixed.

  5. ripperlv on October 8th, 2011 2:04 am

    ripperlv, your post misses the point entirely. No one is saying that upgrading the catcher is suddenly going to make us a playoff contender, but it would help. And all those All-Star players you mention have a pretty damn good OBP. You can’t score runs when you can’t get on base, and Olivo cannot get on base. It’s easily one of the top positions we could use some improvement from, and a trade for someone like Ryan Hannigan fixes that problem pretty cheaply.

    Actually you miss the point completely. but I understand. Good luck to you.

    In his first 10 years with the Mariners, Ichiro Suzuki averaged roughly 5.3 WAR per season. For that 10 year stretch, there are two players who were more valuable: Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriquez?
    And that proves what? That a singles hitter doesn’t belong in the group
    Classic example of why WAR doesn’t win ball games, players do. Been there, done that, if stats won games, Halladay would not have lost. Yes I follow sabermetrics, but it is not the end all, be all as I think most will agree. Especially during the playoffs, anything can happen.

  6. jjracoon on October 8th, 2011 2:06 am

    I was also looking at freeing up some more money for 2012 and what is to say Ichiro doesnt have a bounce back year and then get 17 million a year for a couple years more. Upper managment likes him and it isnt out of realm of possibility.

  7. ripperlv on October 8th, 2011 2:20 am

    I was also looking at freeing up some more money for 2012 and what is to say Ichiro doesnt have a bounce back year and then get 17 million a year for a couple years more. Upper managment likes him and it isnt out of realm of possibility.

    Good luck with that.

  8. ripperlv on October 8th, 2011 2:39 am

    BTW, the M’s need to add 38 WAR to make the playoffs.

  9. Steve Nelson on October 8th, 2011 12:14 pm

    Jamie Moyer will be ready to put on a uniform again this spring. I wouldn’t be the least surprised if he gets an invite to spring training as a non-roster invitee.

  10. JoshJones on October 8th, 2011 7:22 pm

    no offense people but I don’t wanna hear about Brandon Inge, Jamie Moyer, Jack Wilson, Adam Kenedy, or any other waste of space player that should be a small insignificant pickup. Im not saying we shouldn’t take a flyer on these guys or even sign them to a minor league deal. But after seeing a whole season of adam kenedy, jack cust, and jack wilson playing consistently I dont think I can take anymore speculation about guys who shouldn’t be playing on a team that’s “rebuilding.” Just let managment sign them or not and we can talk about them then 🙂

  11. djw on October 8th, 2011 9:02 pm

    That a singles hitter doesn’t belong in the group
    Classic example of why WAR doesn’t win ball games, players do.

    WAR give credits to singles based on an analysis–by all accounts I’ve seen, a sound one–of the contribution made by singles to winning baseball games.

    If you’ve got evidence that WAR is overvaluing singles, please share!

  12. Jordan on October 9th, 2011 5:27 pm

    BTW, the M’s need to add 38 WAR to make the playoffs.

    or 23.5 to get the Wild Card….

    Still, just so depressing 🙁

    I wonder how much regression to the mean can close this gap?

  13. Jordan on October 9th, 2011 5:50 pm

    Only looking at WAR the Mariners are not as far away as the numbers seem.

    They lost 4.2 from the group that includes:
    Cust, Pena, Peguero, Halman, M. Wilson, Saunders, Bradley, Langerhans, and Robinson.

    In that group I don’t see any making the team next year.

    They received 2.3 combined from Ichiro, Smoak, Seager, Carp and Wells.

    They received 7.3 combined from Gutierrez, Olivo, Ryan and Ackley.

    Kennedy and Rodriguez contributed 0.0 so that won’t factor in.

    Hopefully, it’s not entirely unrealistic to expect another 8 WAR from those groups. So with addition by subtraction and improvement from within the Mariners could be around 12 additional WAR and the playoffs! That’s just 2 blockbusters and few chips to acquire them.

    But seriously, even though the Mariners are not likely to add enough to contend, a .500 team is not out of the question. Here’s to optimism 🙂

  14. JoshJones on October 9th, 2011 6:31 pm

    anyone wanna give up the farm for longoria?

  15. Ibuprofen on October 9th, 2011 6:44 pm

    anyone wanna give up the farm for longoria?

    Go away, Bill Bavasi.

  16. Valenica on October 9th, 2011 7:25 pm

    Robinson can still make the team. I think if Wells or Guti doesn’t perform up to par, Robinson is next in line.

    We really shouldn’t look at building a team through just WAR, but the point is, the Rangers are the class of the AL along with NYY/BOS. If we don’t think we can compete with NYY/BOS for the WC, than we don’t stand a chance against TEX. We need a team that can compete against the Yankees, not against the Angels and their overachieving
    85 win self.

    I’ve been checking out some scouting heavy blogs and the take is a lot more interesting and more in line with what I think. We need to trust in Z and play his kids – not trade them and acquire damaged goods from other teams (ala Ian Stewart).

    We need power at 3B/LF and Seager isn’t the answer; neither is Aramis Ramirez however. Play Seager now and see if Liddi/Catricala/Martinez can step up to the plate. Play Wells and hope he hits like Carp, but if he doesn’t, don’t hesitate to replace him with Trayvon/Chiang/Catricala and see what they can do. We have Smoak/Ackley/Carp inked in – 2012 will be about Wells in LF/CF, Trayvon in LF/CF, Catricala at 3B/LF, and seeing what Seager, Miller, Martinez, Franklin, Chiang, Paxton, Hultzen, Furbush, and the rest can do. 2012 will be a lot like 2011 – and that’s okay. The rebuild is working.

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