It’s Not Either Or

Dave · October 17, 2011 at 10:57 am · Filed Under Mariners 

When I rolled out a few suggestions last week for low-cost players that I’d like to see the M’s go after, one of the common responses was that guys like Casey McGehee or Angel Pagan weren’t appreciably better than the younger players that were already here, with the idea being that the team shouldn’t bother bringing in any players who aren’t likely to provide significant upgrades at the team’s weak spots. This is one of the ideas that I most strongly disagree with, as it presents roster construction as a false choice of either this guy or that guy, when in reality, good teams give themselves the ability to have both.

For instance, let’s focus on third base for a second. Kyle Seager certainly has his supporters who feel that his performance last year should be enough to earn him regular playing time at the hot corner in 2012. As a guy whose only glaring flaw is his inability to hit left-handed pitching, he offers an overall package that projects as a +1 to +2 win player, and he could fill that spot for the league minimum. Because of his presence, quite a few people think the M’s should just leave third base alone and spend their resources elsewhere.

The problem is that the choice at third base isn’t really Seager or McGehee (or any other similar type of player), but that in reality, it’s just Seager or Seager and McGehee. If the M’s decide to go into 2012 with Seager as the starting third baseman, then their options for a backup plan at the position become pretty limited. You’re not going to lure any useful role players to Seattle unless you dangle playing time in front of their face – they’re not coming for the winning atmosphere or the hitter friendly ballpark, that’s for sure – and if you give Seager the starting 3B job, you’re quickly out of carrots to get another decent third baseman onto the roster.

So, then, you’re hanging all of your hopes on Seager producing next year, and if he doesn’t, the team is basically screwed. Alex Liddi isn’t ready. I still like Luis Rodriguez, but if he’s the team’s starting third baseman for long stretches next year, something went very wrong. We could sit around hoping that Chone Figgins remembers how to hit, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for that while the coaching staff yells “AGGRESSIVENESS” at everyone who goes up to bat, and I’d imagine the team will try to move him in a bad contract swap this winter anyway.

The M’s simply have no depth at third base, so sticking with the status quo forces the team to put all of their eggs in one unproven basket. Despite the quantity of left fielders on the roster, I’d argue the team is in the same position out there, as Casper Wells is the only guy on the roster that looks like he should get any real playing time at the position next year, and he’s probably not good enough to be a full-time guy either.

The M’s don’t just need one great hitter to “transform the line-up” – they need several decent hitters to stop them from running out a line-up full of black holes again. Here’s the team’s OPS by position in 2011, and where that ranked in MLB:

Catcher: .616 (26th)
First Base: .760 (20th)
Second Base: .736 (9th)
Shortstop: .659 (21st)
Third Base: .526 (30th)
Left Field: .649 (26th)
Center Field: .532 (30th)
Right Field: .639 (30th)
Designated Hitter: .648 (14th of 14 AL teams)

If you think one good hitting 1B/DH type is going to fix those problems, I don’t know what to tell you. The team is basically locked into hoping for rebounds in CF/RF, as Gutierrez and Ichiro have established track records that suggest they should be significantly better and contracts that strongly push the team to give them another chance, but C/3B/LF are still going to be glaring holes even if you sign a guy like Prince Fielder.

A significant part of the Mariners problems the last few years have been in having inadequate backup plans for when the guy being counted doesn’t perform. When the team got rid of Milton Bradley last year, they had to turn to Carlos Peguero because they didn’t have a Major League left fielder anywhere in the organization. When Chone Figgins showed he still couldn’t hit, the team turned to Adam Kennedy, and that went about as well as expected. When Miguel Olivo posted a .250 OBP, he still played everyday because the alternatives were Chris Gimenez and Josh Bard.

The 2012 Mariners should not go into the season so unprepared. It would be great if Seager showed he can hit enough to be a full-time player, Wells established himself as more than a fourth outfielder, Carp remembered how to take a base on balls once in a while, and Gutierrez and Ichiro rebounded to prior levels, but the reality is that the team cannot count on any of those things happening. They have to have realistic alternatives in place so that we don’t get another summer of ridiculous line-ups where Kennedy and Olivo are hitting back-to-back in the middle of the order.

Bringing in useful role players like McGehee, Snyder, and Pagan would provide depth that could insulate the team from having to rely on minor league players and guys that simply don’t belong in the big leagues in the first place. By simply going from atrocious to decent at a few positions, the team could get a more substantial offensive upgrade than they could by throwing huge gobs of cash at one player, no matter how good of a hitter he is.

The Mariners can’t be an all-their-eggs-in-one-basket team anymore. They can’t count on Prince Fielder to save their offense, and they can’t count on guys like Seager, Wells, or Carp to perform as regulars without any safety net. There’s spots for some of those guys on the roster, but the team has to make sure that the 2012 offense will still be decent whether those guys perform or not. They should be viewed as upside plays who can provide value in expanded roles if they earn those positions, but should not be counted on to be regular players from day one.

It’s not either the kids or the veterans. This is a team that needs some veterans to make sure that the team doesn’t sink with the kids once again.

Comments

102 Responses to “It’s Not Either Or”

  1. bat guano on October 17th, 2011 11:28 am

    You make a very important point, Dave. Depth has been a problem for this team since Day 1. Can anyone think of a team other than a brief run between the late 1990′s and 2001 where there weren’t major holes on the bench? Yes, we need better regulars, but interchangeable parts on the bench (preferably with somewhat different strengths) would be nice to have too.

  2. paracorto on October 17th, 2011 11:37 am

    “This is a team that needs some veterans to make sure that the team doesn’t sink with the kids once again.”

    Actually the team sank because of the veterans last season. If we take away guys like Pineda, Ackley, Carp, Seager and other newcomers what remains from 2011 ? Cust, Kennedy, Gutierrez, Figgins, Olivo and Ichiro perhaps ? This team does not need backups or poor travelling veterans, the M’s need above average players.

  3. eponymous coward on October 17th, 2011 11:44 am

    As one of the “quite a few people think the M’s should just leave third base alone and spend their resources elsewhere”, who nonetheless agrees wholeheartedly with the concept of “this roster is too thin, and we need some veterans”, I’ll explain my reasoning…

    I am probably a little more optimistic about Seager, more so than any of the prospects/guys who have not yet locked down a job on the roster, given his success in the minors (and not just at AAA, his 2010+2011 in toto). It is pretty notable to go from A ball to MLB in the span of a year, and do it without looking horribly, horribly lost at some point (think how Jose Lopez looked for his first 300-400 PAs in MLB, or Peguero this year, that kind of lost). He seems to have adjusted very well to pro ball.

    - The budget on the team (assuming that the team neither cuts budget from ’11 nor raises it for ’12, which might not be a totally safe assumption, especially on the cut side) doesn’t realistically look to spread out all the way over the places it needs to in a “let’s upgrade lots of places” scenario: 3B, OF, C, veteran starter, bullpen.

    The Mariners will probably have to go something like this: “OK, 3B, OF, C, veteran starter, bullpen. We can pick three where we can put some money, and the rest it’s all Large Item Pickup Day and kids”.

    If I had to pick three from that list, it would be OF, C, veteran starter, though it would also depend on the market- if a screaming good way to upgrade the bullpen comes along that’s clearly better than other options, sure, let’s do it. Let’s not lock in on one approach and blind ourselves to other options. I will just say I have more confidence that Seager will pick up a little ability to hit LHP than wanting Furbush or Beaven to be the incumbents at 4/5, with no real challenge to that, or in Adam Moore’s surgically reconstructed knee. And to be honest, of the positions that you often CAN fill on Large Item Pickup Day, the bullpen is usually the one where this works out best (Aardsma and so on).

  4. shortbus on October 17th, 2011 11:56 am

    I really wonder how much the “aggressiveness” push hurt this team. That’s absolutely the opposite of what I’d hoped the new manager would bring to the team. Getting rid of Yuni and Lopez gave me hope the organization was going a different direction.

    But the question is whether the M’s are swinging at too many pitches, or if they just can’t hit the ball when they swing at it. From the numbers it looks like a little of both. But if your team has trouble making contact, isn’t it a bad idea to put it into their heads that they should swing more?

    Another advantage to bringing in some veteran players is perhaps they’d be less likely to change their approach at the plate based on nonsense like this.

  5. JoshJones on October 17th, 2011 12:17 pm

    Why not just sign someone like Michael Cuddyer. An abover average hitter that serves as a backup at 3rd,OF,2nd,1st. Then we can let the kids play while brining in a veteran player who can play everyday and give us great flexibility.

    Luis rodriguez. You gotta be kidding me.

  6. KaminaAyato on October 17th, 2011 12:42 pm

    Why not just sign someone like Michael Cuddyer. An abover average hitter that serves as a backup at 3rd,OF,2nd,1st. Then we can let the kids play while brining in a veteran player who can play everyday and give us great flexibility.

    I said that earlier.

  7. Ibuprofen on October 17th, 2011 12:43 pm

    Why not just sign someone like Michael Cuddyer.

    Because money.

  8. SonOfZavaras on October 17th, 2011 12:47 pm

    It’s not either the kids or the veterans. This is a team that needs some veterans to make sure that the team doesn’t sink with the kids once again.

    I agree with this whole-heartedly. I love kids with promise on the ballclub as much as anyone, but as the one egg you’ve got? Too much futility from too many players not ready for prime time could really ruin a whole generational crop of prospects.

    Why not just sign someone like Michael Cuddyer. An abover average hitter that serves as a backup at 3rd,OF,2nd,1st. Then we can let the kids play while brining in a veteran player who can play everyday and give us great flexibility.

    Cuddyer’s an interesting case, Josh- he has deeper, more tangible ties to the Twins than people realize and he’s going to give them every chance to re-sign him. The Twins are the only org he’s ever played for, and that seems to mean something to him.

    It doesn’t preclude us from getting him, of course. Just an obstacle that’s in place…we may need to wait for an opening created by the Twins dragging their feet with him- which I am just not sure if the Twins will do.

  9. SonOfZavaras on October 17th, 2011 12:51 pm

    Oh, I forgot…I think a ballplayer with the name of “Angel Pagan” is just destined to play in a city like Seattle.

  10. Chris_From_Bothell on October 17th, 2011 1:02 pm

    The kids were still growing and yeah, even if everyone has a great bounceback or breakout year, a lot has to break right just to be a .500 club. So it’s logical to bring in veterans for some positions.

    As long as the veterans that are brought in as filler are healthy, quality players, and not the blue light specials the Mariners have made a habit of picking up. No injury-risk, low-cost-high-upside, cheap-due-to-coming-off-a-bad-year retreads, please.

    Quality imports, through trade or free agency, should be done for whatever is deemed the impact player or two, as well as the people to backfill the kids and round out the roster.

    Out of 3b, C, LF, DH, a #3 starter, possibly even CF or RF… at least two of those brought in this winter should be truly well above average. Finding guys who should be good for 1 or 2 WAR each, for each of the remaining ones, fine. Just no more Olivos, Custs, Kennedys, Byrneses, etc. …

  11. Chris_From_Bothell on October 17th, 2011 1:12 pm

    But the question is whether the M’s are swinging at too many pitches, or if they just can’t hit the ball when they swing at it.

    It’s the latter.

    With the exception of Carp, and very obviously Peguero, the new guys’ O-Swing %s for 2011 were league average or better. So I don’t think it’s swinging at too many pitches outside.

    I know a bunch of these guys need to draw more walks, and every player should always be looking to improve pitch / strike zone recognition… but based on O-Swing%, they’re not swinging at crap. Not more than the average guy.

    A strike is a strike, whether it’s swing-and-miss or whether the bat is on their shoulder.They have to swing at some of these. Don’t they need to be swinging to learn how to make contact?

    Wedge’s preaching about aggressiveness was about being aggressive with hittable pitches. I think that gets misinterpreted here and at LL because of (justifiable) despair over declining OBP.

  12. spankystout on October 17th, 2011 1:43 pm

    I couldn’t agree more Dave….The first options on this team aren’t very good, and the second stringers are even worse. Jack Z needs all the MLB level talent he can get. Especially if Ichiro, Guti, and Olivo continue to suck.

  13. JoshJones on October 17th, 2011 2:20 pm

    [Olivo]

  14. KaminaAyato on October 17th, 2011 2:52 pm

    Because money.

    I think that depends. Cuddyer averaged $8M per year of the contract and $10M in his last year.

    Also remember that he’ll have turned 33 when the 2012 season kicks off. So the question is how many years he’ll be signed for. I suppose it’ll be 2 years though I don’t know if it’ll average more than the $10M he got this past year.

    We have $15-20M to spend, and we don’t have to acquire FAs in all positions of need.

    The positive for Cuddyer is that he can theoretically fill in 3B or LF depending on which position we feel is weaker.

    The negative outside of the salary is that while he can play LF, chances are to keep him healthy he shouldn’t be a 162 game LF. Which reduces some of his flexibility that we were looking for (his 2B/1B eligibility is moot given we have bench players or starters in the case of Carp for that already). Though perhaps if you give Smoak a true day off, Carp shifts to 1B and Cuddyer goes to DH.

    Now is Cuddyer’s positions (3B/LF) a top priority? If so, then you might as well at least kick the tires on him and take a test drive – can’t hurt. If you’re more concerned about SP/C, then there’s no need to continue this conversation.

  15. bookbook on October 17th, 2011 3:57 pm

    Budget’s a tricky thing, here. Alex Gordon’s going to cost about $10 million per year, right? Building “depth” by adding Gordon precludes adding Mr. Big Splash as well (dreams of the Votto-level trade or FA).

    The M’s aren’t in a great spot, we all know. Thanks to Figgins, Ichiro, Felix, the team doesn’t have oodles of financial manueverability, and we have many potential holes…

  16. Valenica on October 17th, 2011 4:17 pm

    I agree we need depth. I think Casey McGehee had the exact same problems as Chone Figgins did (low BABIP, power decrease) but his ceiling is higher so if the prospect we give up isn’t too good, why not, although the RHB, awful home/away splits, and NL->AL move makes me question how effective he would be. Angel Pagan is rumored to be non-tendered so we could potentially get him for cheap as a backup CF/LF, because if he’s trying to re-establish value, what better place than Seattle and it’s weak CF/LF?. Chris Snyder is a FA, and Bard is also a FA and we do need C depth so I have no problem with getting back ups for Olivo.

    But I don’t think any of these guys, with the potential exception of McGehee if his power is back, should be starting for us. These guys are Adam Kennedy – the guy who fills in for Seager/Wells/Guti/Carp if they fall flat on their face 2011 Figgins/Ichiro style. These guys aren’t saviors, but stop gaps until the minor kids are ready.

    What I’m questioning is, would playing Pagan be better than playing Robinson? McGehee over Liddi? Robinson and Liddi have both done full seasons in AAA and they’re basically ready. Z’s done a good job finding depth at these positions with near major league ready talent; it would be a waste to give playing time to 29-31 year olds who have peaked already at a league average level over prospects with potential to be above average. Granted they could crash and burn, but we should take as many high-risk high-reward chances as we can while we still can, instead of low-risk low-reward with players like Pagan/McGehee. That’s my opinon, anyway.

  17. ripperlv on October 17th, 2011 4:21 pm

    I think I am grasping your preachings. A relatively low cost pick-up such as McGehee, rebounds to provide a better than league average performance. Or a combo of McGehee/Seager that improves 3B. Possibly Seager becomes our Jerry Hairston. Same with Pagan, but in the outfield. Pagan/McGehee are not so good (or expensive) that they couldn’t be displaced if say, Saeger or Wells or whoever starts acting like an all-star while providing decent major league play. Or they can be platooned with.
    Four players who should rebound, or so thier past would indicate: Ichiro, Gutt., McGehee, Pagan or else we have more of the same. I like the idea. Now can we get a power hitter?

  18. goat on October 17th, 2011 4:25 pm

    bookbook: Alex Gordon? I may have missed something, but I don’t remember reading about him anywhere in this article or the comments.

    I would mostly agree with what eponymous coward says, but add that the lack of good options at 3B might make the cost of acquiring McGehee more than the cost of a similar player at another position. If there weren’t so many other holes, then it would make more sense. But when Figgins has the 12th highest WAR of 3B over the last three years, it might be worth waiting on before upgrading there.

  19. Chris_From_Bothell on October 17th, 2011 4:39 pm

    But I don’t think any of these guys, with the potential exception of McGehee if his power is back, should be starting for us. These guys are Adam Kennedy – the guy who fills in for Seager/Wells/Guti/Carp if they fall flat on their face

    Well, assuming newly acquired guys are used as stopgaps, yes. But Adam Kennedy may not be a great example… Kennedy, Olivo and others were part time backup players being played full time, played as starters and played way too often.

    Getting vets as backups and complements to continually developing kids, and actually having them played that way, sure. Getting vets and then seeing Wedge run them into the ground, because he “sees something in their eyes” or some damned thing, not so much.

    I’d love to see Z package up anyone he gets this winter with some specific instructions for Wedge. Put a tag on the player’s heel if you need to. “Warning: only intended for occasional use. Do not give more than 300 ABs. Do not start more than twice a week. Keep out of direct sunlight. Do not feed after midnight. Do not take if you consume 3 or more alcoholic drinks per day.” Etc.

  20. rth1986 on October 17th, 2011 4:54 pm

    Dave, you are making some good points. It’s a little surprising that Jack and co. haven’t realized this and addressed the lack of ML depth. I’m guessing it has to do around giving the kids a chance in 2011, but 2012 has to be different.

    With Figgins, Seager and Liddi (maybe even Catricala and Triunfel?) all with the possibility of being major league contributors, you’ve got to think that 3B will be at the bottom of the priorities. However, I definitely agree that a versatile player who could produce in at 3B like McGehee, Cuddyer or even an Ian Stewart would be a valuable addition.

    I’d definitely put a starting pitcher or catcher above LF and 3B for the time being. But ideally, all of those spots should be added to this offseason.

  21. Mackie on October 17th, 2011 5:27 pm

    Great post, Dave. I couldn’t agree more. If nothing else, this team needs some depth for next year. Far too often the M’s have a crappy bench, so when someone is injured or not performing up to expectations, the replacements are inadequate.

    Agreed, rth1986, it does have to be different for 2012. Sure, they can give someone like Seager the 3B job next year, but if he falters or needs to take his time a bit, they should have someone who can step in for stretches and play reasonably well…

  22. JoshJones on October 17th, 2011 5:38 pm

    - Angel Pagan…I’d put forth a little more effort and trade for someone like Logan Morrison.
    -Casey McGee…Again I’d aim higher and go after Pablo Sandoval/Alex Gordon via trade.

    I think it’s possible to attain these 2 guys without giving up Pineda or Hultzen.

    Seager/Liddi/Paxton/Walker/Trayvon/Saunders/Wells/Furbush
    Add in a couple bargain pickups like Ryan Doumit/Chris Iannnette and Erik Bedard and you’ve made this team a competitor without breaking the bank or sacrificing our future.

    Felix, Pineda, Bedard, Vargas, Hultzen/Beavan

    Ichiro
    Ackley
    Pablo
    Smoak
    Morrison
    Carp
    Guti
    Doumit/Olivo
    Ryan

  23. puppyfoot on October 17th, 2011 5:40 pm

    As far as patience at the plate goes, the M’s did have one player who ranked 13th in Pitches per Plate Appearance among the 403 players who had at least 175 PA’s. That player was Michael Saunders, he of the .149/.207/.217 triple slash. Fastball down the heart of the plate for called strike one; flailing swing at a breaking ball in the dirt for strike two; wasted pitch high and outside for ball one (and, occassionally, in order to get his pitches per PA up to 4.14, another ball on the outside) and, finally, called strike three on the outside corner. Exit baffled.

    I’m not so sure the string of double figure strikeout games at the end of the season was so much the result of “aggressiveness” as it was pitchers going right at batters who they know can’t hit and have no power.

  24. qwerty on October 17th, 2011 5:44 pm

    Is it crazy to consider signing McGehee AND Pagan or Cuddyer…and move Ackley to OF with Seager platooning at 3b& 2b for depth. It would mean getting a Mark Ellis or Ryan Theriot type for 2b.

  25. Jordan on October 17th, 2011 6:01 pm

    qwerty- A large part of Ackley’s value comes from passable d at second and an above average bat for the position. Move him to OF and his value diminishes considerably. Otherwise, no it’s not a crazy idea.

  26. ivan on October 17th, 2011 6:07 pm

    Robinson and Liddi have both done full seasons in AAA and they’re basically ready.

    Just because a player has played a full season in AAA doesn’t mean he’s ready.

  27. TumwaterMike on October 17th, 2011 6:21 pm

    Except for this year, the Twins have had a winning formula of a mixture of vets and young players. As older players skills diminish they replace them from their farm system That’s what depth is about.

  28. Valenica on October 17th, 2011 6:25 pm

    I’m of the belief that if you need more than one season in AAA you’ll probably never be ready. I think this is Z’s philosophy too. They’re as ready as they’ll ever be.

    Moving Ackley to the OF for Seager doesn’t make sense unless you think Seager’s bat is better than Wells’. It’s not.

    What would people think of a Pineda-Morrison swap ala Volquez-Hamilton? I’d love a 24 year old LHB with power, patience, relatively low Ks, and high contact. His defense is atrocious though.

  29. everett on October 17th, 2011 6:40 pm

    Did I somehow end up at a site other than USSM? We’re now hoping for a couple of “well-above average” players? Where exactly do you expect to find such players? 3.5-4 WAR players aren’t just freely available talent. They certainly aren’t easy to just go out and acquire a couple, particularly given the budget we’re looking at. At FA prices, 3.5 WAR is something like 18m per year, which would be our entire budget. Also, where is this idea that Sandoval is just going to be available coming from? You can’t just go out and look through fangraphs and decide which guys you want to trade for. The vast majority of these 3.5-4 WAR guys simply aren’t available. Also, anyone who thinks moving Ackley off of 2B is the solution is crazy.

    For anyone who doubts the value of average players, see the DBacks this year, who, simply by virtue of avoiding terrible players, were able to make a run of it in winning the NL West. If we could replace all our below replacement play with average players, all of a sudden we look an awful lot like a .500 team, and with a couple interesting young players and a chance for breakouts, you never know.

  30. Chris_From_Bothell on October 17th, 2011 6:48 pm

    The vast majority of these 3.5-4 WAR guys simply aren’t available.

    That’s kind of where Z earns his keep, by making trades we don’t see coming. Cliff Lee, for example.

  31. Chris_From_Bothell on October 17th, 2011 6:53 pm

    I’m of the belief that if you need more than one season in AAA you’ll probably never be ready.

    Mike Carp and Mike Morse say hi.

  32. Valenica on October 17th, 2011 7:07 pm

    You can’t find a team of 3.5-4 WAR guys through trades alone, especially not in one off-season. The 3.5-4 WAR guys need to come from in-house development. Trade for guys we think have potential that others don’t, then develop them to their full potential. Guys like Justin Smoak, Casper Wells, Mike Carp, Jason Vargas, Doug Fister, Franklin Gutierrez…guys we see potential in that no one else does, then develop them. We don’t need guys who have already reached their limited potential, had a down year, then buy them on the cheap. These guys won’t amount to anything other than back-ups (not saying we don’t need them) but they’re not what we should really care about.

  33. Valenica on October 17th, 2011 7:12 pm

    Mike Carp and Mike Morse aren’t exactly great arguments. Carp played after Saunders, Peguero, Halman, and Wilson because Z didn’t have faith in him at the level he was playing. Then he completely changed his approach and broke out. Morse saw his peripherals get better year after year in AAA but the minute he played full time in the MLB his peripherals went back to the same levels they were at his 1st year in AAA. The improvements you make after the first year in AAA don’t carry forward to the MLB – Carp had to change his entire approach and Morse saw that first hand when he got MLB playing time.

  34. Chris_From_Bothell on October 17th, 2011 7:47 pm

    You can’t find a team of 3.5-4 WAR guys through trades alone, especially not in one off-season.

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting you can. Find one, as a premium upgrade, of course you can. This team certainly needs one or two. A team of them? No, of course you can’t.

    Mike Carp and Mike Morse aren’t exactly great arguments.

    They are if you’re arguing against “if you need more than one season of AAA you’ll never be ready”. They had more than one season in AAA. Carp has had (yes, small sample size) success against major league pitching. Morse has had success at the major league level now.

    That they had to change their approaches is orthogonal here – the point is that players don’t have to ‘graduate AAA’, so to speak, in one year in order to become productive major league players.

    We don’t need guys who have already reached their limited potential, had a down year, then buy them on the cheap. These guys won’t amount to anything other than back-ups (not saying we don’t need them) but they’re not what we should really care about.

    Hear hear! That we agree on. :)

  35. everett on October 17th, 2011 8:04 pm

    I think we’re undervaluing these guys we’re calling backup players. Seriously, there’s alot of value in replacing a couple of replacement players with 1.5-2 WAR “backups” (who on our team would actually get a decent amount of playing time).

  36. Valenica on October 17th, 2011 8:19 pm

    I’m not saying players with more than one year in AAA won’t succeed – I’m saying the additional year after the first year won’t teach them much in value. Travyon and Liddi have already done a year in AAA – they’ve learned as much as they’ll ever learn about hitting down there. They need MLB playing time to develop now.

    And I don’t think there are that many Cliff Lee trades floating around; you can’t bank on another one to find another 3.5-4 WAR player. I’d love to do a Marcum/Lawrie or Napoli/Francisco trade if there’s one available but I’m not getting my hopes up. My point was these players come from development, not ready made, unless you want to pay top tier talent for them.

    I’m not undervaluing backups but we have rookie talent we need to develop if we want to get anywhere. Having 1-2 WAR players taking up Wells/Seager’s development time isn’t a good idea, especially if Wells/Seager have 3-4 WAR upside. That’s not to say we shouldn’t pick up 1-2 WAR backups just in case, but going from L-Rod ABs to McGehee ABs isn’t going to make us a contender. Instead of focusing on back-ups, we should focus on undervalued minor league talent but I guess that’s harder to write about.

  37. Steve Nelson on October 17th, 2011 8:26 pm

    @ KaminaAyato on October 17th, 2011 2:52 pm

    The positive for Cuddyer is that he can theoretically fill in 3B or LF depending on which position we feel is weaker.

    Theoretically the Mariners could transplant a maple tree to left field or third base and tie a fielders glove on a low hanging branch every time the Mariners take the field. The defense wouldn’t be too much different, but the maple tree would provide the fans with better fall colors than Cuddyer ever could.

  38. JoshJones on October 17th, 2011 8:56 pm

    “Also, where is this idea that Sandoval is just going to be available coming from? You can’t just go out and look through fangraphs and decide which guys you want to trade for”

    What makes you think that big name players don’t get traded? Mark Texiera, Zack Grienke, A-Gone, Hunter Pence, Roy Halladay, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holiday…etc. I think what you mean is WHY would the Giants trade Pablo when they are one year removed from a World Series.

    Answer: They won the WS with Cody Ross/Pat Burrel/Edgar Renteria as starters. Pablo Sandoval was basically a bench player who had 17AB’s in their entire playoff run for a blistering .178/.263/.235/.498…..In other words they won WITHOUT him. He was also garbage during the regular season. They have Aubrey Huff at 1st, Keppinger at 2nd, Orlando Cabrera at SS.
    Float Seager/Paxton/Trayvon out there and I think they would listen. Maybe even get Figgins involved.

  39. puppyfoot on October 17th, 2011 9:02 pm

    A 1-2 WAR player on the M’s would be a star. Here’s the problem: the four highest paid position players on the team are Ichiro ($17), Figgins ($9), Guti ($5.5), and Olivo ($3.5) for a total of $35 million. Collectively, they are coming off a year in which they generated a combined minus 1.1 WAR. Obviously, if they don’t improve significantly in 2012, no amount of 1-2 WAR players can compensate for their deficiencies. As Paracorto pointed out above, it wasn’t Carp and Seager that made the 2011 M’s suck.

  40. Valenica on October 17th, 2011 9:12 pm

    What makes you think that big name players don’t get traded? Mark Texiera, Zack Grienke, A-Gone, Hunter Pence, Roy Halladay, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holiday…etc. I think what you mean is WHY would the Giants trade Pablo when they are one year removed from a World Series.

    All those guys had 1-2 years left on their contract, and the 2 year trades were small market teams who didn’t want to pay the 2nd year of arbitration. Sandoval still has 3 years left. He was worth 5.5 WAR this season and even if Sabean’s an idiot, I don’t think he would consider trading him with 3 years left just because of last year’s down year. They had one of the worst offenses in the league. Why would they trade their best offensive player for another pitcher?

    Sandoval’s a pipe dream. Alex Gordon, not so much, but he’s only had 1 elite year and he has one year left until FA. Logan Morrison is a possibility but I think they would want Walker or Pineda for him, which is discussion worthy.

  41. shortbus on October 17th, 2011 9:18 pm

    There’s no chance the M’s are getting Sandoval. There isn’t a package of players the M’s would be willing to part with that would make sense. I like the notion of Alex Gordon a lot more, as KC really needs pitching. It’s a good match for both teams. He’d likely cost one of our top pitching prospects as he has two likely very affordable years left. And possibly two of his peak years.

    Or the team can just try to repeat what SF did last year…have a great staff and just enough offense. If our prospects pan out we could duplicate in 2013 what SF did in 2010.

  42. henryv on October 17th, 2011 9:18 pm

    I’m not of the opinion to just play only kids, however, I would like to see them play, with some inexpensive (free agent/low risk) trades players competing for jobs.

    We have too many AAAA outfielders for an organization.

    But to me this comes down to timing.

    Our young players haven’t been developed, or sorted out yet. And the free agent market SUCKS for the 3B and C position.

    However, it does look very promising in 2013. Additionally, that is the year that you can spend a lot more money, with Ichiro off the books (or at least the current contract).

    I think that filling the team with short term buy-low guys and assuming that they will compete with the younger guys will be a) more entertaining and b) better for the future of the organization.

    I’d still be willing to make a huge trade for Zimmerman, so long as it didn’t involve too many.

    But other than that, I fill my roster, and bide my time. Maybe make a quick strike, using some minor league outfielders and Alex Liddi as bait.

    But I think we are looking at a 75 win team with some kids and a few fill-ins, while we wait for one of our outfielders to pop, Guti to return, Ichiro to return or maintain, with Smoak, Carp and Ackley to mature.

  43. jjracoon on October 17th, 2011 11:09 pm

    The one thing Wedge and to some extent Z made clear at the end of the season was there arent any guaranteed positions next year. You will have to compete so you better go out this winter and work on those areas that need improvement. Bringing in solid veterans that heighten competition is a good way to evaluate improvement and give Wedge alternatives.

    Not naming any players to get but they need to be good enough to push Olivo (if he is still the no 1 catcher) into the eight hole in the lineup. If he bat any higher than seventh then the Mariners havent accomplished what they needed to.

  44. eponymous coward on October 17th, 2011 11:27 pm

    Having 1-2 WAR players taking up Wells/Seager’s development time isn’t a good idea, especially if Wells/Seager have 3-4 WAR upside.

    If they turn into 3-4 WAR players, it will be kind of bleeding obvious, unless Jack Zdurienick ends up with undiagnosed brain damage.

    Dave’s point is that good teams have 1-2 WAR players on their bench. Remember when we were good? We had Mark McLemore and Stan Javier as part-time players.

    However, it does look very promising in 2013. Additionally, that is the year that you can spend a lot more money, with Ichiro off the books (or at least the current contract).

    This is the same thing I heard last year, except it was “once Silva and Bradley are off the books”.

    It gets rather old. I am sure not looking forward to hearing “once Guti’s contract is up we’ll be in better shape” next year.

    But I think we are looking at a 75 win team with some kids and a few fill-ins

    And if that’s a true talent assessment, that means you’re a couple of coinflips/rolls of the dice away from 90 losses on bad luck- and it arguably means Jack Zduriencik is going to go into 2013 with very little margin for error, given that a bad, unexciting team is likely going to mean frittering more attendance and goodwill away from the fanbase.

    We should aspire to be more than the A’s on a down year.

  45. jjracoon on October 18th, 2011 1:52 am

    Another way to look at veterans is the Texas Rangers offense. Once you get by Elvis Andrus and Mitch Moreland this is a team of veterans in the 28-35 age range. Many grew into veterans with the Rangers thru the bad years and then they added a few such as Beltre, Torrealba, Endy Chavez & Napoli. To not expect growing pains when the Mariners are trying to turn rookies and 2nd year players into solid MLB players is silly. If adding a few veterans with good upside, can help the team and US face another year of developing then so be it.

    Any idea I’ve had would require ownership to open their wallets a little wider so say Ichiro’s salary this year is ignored in the whole totalling thing.

  46. The_Waco_Kid on October 18th, 2011 1:52 am

    If I had to pick three from that list, it would be OF, C, veteran starter

    This is the issue. I think OF should be the highest priority because the odds of Ichiro, Guti, and Trayvon/Wells all playing well next year are lower than the odds of Seager breaking out.

    3B should not be the top priority, but remember that Dave specifically noted that McGehee (and Pagan) had flexibility and that is the key. He did not call for platooning, although I think it was confusing cuz he called Seager a bench player before. We have all these uncertain rookies, so we need to simultaneously avoid blocking the good ones and back up the bad ones (McGehee can maybe do that).

    This is the same thing I heard last year, except it was “once Silva and Bradley are off the books”

    I hear you, but seriously, our situation is way more uncertain this time. Next year, our priorities should be far more obvious.

  47. Valenica on October 18th, 2011 2:40 am

    The problem with OF depth is that Ichiro is guaranteed playing time, and to a lesser extent so is Guti. Right now it’s looking like Wells in LF with Robinson as next in line if Wells/Guti fail. Chiang and Catricala should both start AAA and I rather not prematurely move them up to the majors if Wells/Robinson/Guti fail/get injured, so having a non-tendered backup LF/CF like Angel Pagan isn’t such a bad idea. Just keep in mind he would be the 3rd option, not a regular player.

    3B is a bigger hole than LF, but not by much. It looks the same with Seager penciled in at 3B with Liddi looking to take the spot in ST. The difference is we have Figgins as the 3rd option/utility IF, instead of our AAA guy (most likely Martinez), so we don’t necessarily need McGehee. Figgins should also expect a bounce back in BABIP and (hopefully) power, so there’s potential upside if we get to that. The problem is Seager/Liddi is a worse prospect duo than Wells/Robinson is, so if McGehee is acquirable for cheap it wouldn’t be a bad idea to hedge the risk.

    And 2013′s FA class has Miguel Montero! I rather give him money than A-Ram, Ortiz, or Cuddyer, so it might be better to wait for 2013′s FA class. Just sign a high-risk high-reward pitcher for one year so I don’t have to watch Beavan pitch until Paxton/Hultzen are ready. Or if we have to spend money – Yu Darvish. 25 year old TOR type pitchers are always attractive.

  48. n_jaeger on October 18th, 2011 3:47 am

    In regards to the 3B spot, McGehee or maybe Encarnacion if his option isn’t picked up would be decent fill ins while we wait for Anthony Rendon to develop…….oh wait, we didn’t draft him? I just can’t get over why we didn’t take a shot with him.

  49. ripperlv on October 18th, 2011 4:58 am

    But when Figgins has the 12th highest WAR of 3B over the last three years, it might be worth waiting on before upgrading there.

    Don’t know if that is quite accurate. Didn’t he play 2nd in 2010? Just how long would you wait for him to rebound? Last 2 years and $16 million he has a WAR of -.1. I think like Dave mentioned, he could be a bad contract swap this winter. (Figgins for say Zambrano?, nah.)

  50. HighBrie on October 18th, 2011 7:04 am

    It’s funny to me that this is approximately the same post Dave has put up for the past several years (aside from the one or two Cliff Lee era “if we’re going for it, damn the torpedoes!” posts). And I think the Mariners have been applying this process, just with bad results. Figgins, Bradley, Kotchman, Cust, Kennedy, Endy Chavez, an on. We have been trying to build rosters with league average players. We just need to hit on a few that are really going to shine. I like this post, but I think splitting hairs and choosing the right free agent or three, the right trade– is where smart GM’s distinguish themselves. It’s not either or, but since it’s both, then which both?

  51. ivan on October 18th, 2011 7:17 am

    I’m of the belief that if you need more than one season in AAA you’ll probably never be ready.

    Hall of Famers Earl Averill, Wade Boggs, Jim Bunning, Earle Combs, Joe DMaggio, Bobby Doerr, Rick Ferrell, Bob Gibson, Lefty Gomez, Joe Gordon, Lefty Grove, and Rickey Henderson all had at least two full seasons in AAA. I got tired of running down the list and quit in the middle, but you can add Ted Williams to it.

    Were they ready or were they not? Please refrain from talking nonsense.

  52. Mike Snow on October 18th, 2011 9:27 am

    Is it crazy to … move Ackley to OF

    Yes.

  53. Mike Snow on October 18th, 2011 9:47 am

    Hall of Famers Earl Averill, Wade Boggs, Jim Bunning, Earle Combs, Joe DMaggio, Bobby Doerr, Rick Ferrell, Bob Gibson, Lefty Gomez, Joe Gordon, Lefty Grove, and Rickey Henderson all had at least two full seasons in AAA. I got tired of running down the list and quit in the middle, but you can add Ted Williams to it.

    I don’t agree with the idea that nobody needs more than a year in AAA, but a lot of these guys are not good evidence. To begin with, it’s factually incorrect on Rickey Henderson, who only spent a half season at the AAA level in 1979 before being called up.

    Many of the rest played in minor leagues before the development of modern farm systems. Thus, a team from a league that’s considered AAA today, like the PCL, could hold onto a player for several years if they wanted to, although usually they eventually sold his rights to a major league team. This is especially true for how West Coast kids like Averill, DiMaggio, and Williams were discovered.

    Of the list cited, the only clear legitimate example is Boggs. And in his situation, it’s partly a matter of being blocked at his position by Carney Lansford, who was busy winning a batting title of his own while Boggs repeated AAA.

  54. HighBrie on October 18th, 2011 9:56 am

    I feel the essence of the AAA debate lies in differences in organizational philosophy among clubs and the current state of the roster on a parent club. Desmond Jennings and Jesus Montero saw a lot more of AAA than their talent levels indicated they should. Not saying they’re Hall of Famers, but talent does not always dictate quick promotion.

  55. raul_podzednick on October 18th, 2011 10:18 am

    We are almost done purging the roster of cast offs and retreads. Why would we want to bring in an entire new crop? Let the kids play. Liddi at Third, Seager as your utility guy. Draft or trade for a young catcher, Wells is your RF of the future. obviously 2B is locked down, Carp and Smoak are your DH/1B. Give them a few years, if it doesn’t work out Trade Felix.

  56. goat on October 18th, 2011 10:18 am

    But when Figgins has the 12th highest WAR of 3B over the last three years, it might be worth waiting on before upgrading there.

    Don’t know if that is quite accurate. Didn’t he play 2nd in 2010? Just how long would you wait for him to rebound? Last 2 years and $16 million he has a WAR of -.1. I think like Dave mentioned, he could be a bad contract swap this winter. (Figgins for say Zambrano?, nah.)

    Sorry, he’s 14th now, Alberto Calaspo and Jhonny Peralta must have passed him when I wasn’t looking.

    Source: http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=3b&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=8&season=2011&month=0&season1=2009&ind=0&team=0&players=0

    Incidentally, McGehee is 16th according to the same metric. It would be not at all surprising for us to dump Figgins, get McGehee and have him suck, while Figgins puts up 4 WAR for whoever else.

  57. Badbadger on October 18th, 2011 10:31 am

    The problem is that the choice at third base isn’t really Seager or McGehee (or any other similar type of player), but that in reality, it’s just Seager or Seager and McGehee.

    I would argue that the choice is Seager and McGehee or Seager alone, Casper Wells alone, and Prince Fielder (or whatever other big splash player we might get).

    I don’t really disagree with Dave, but just to make a Devil’s Advocate style argument for the sake of discussion, one could argue that the 2012 M’s are going to need to get lucky, and if Seager and Wells do turn up winners than maybe you have a higher ceiling with them and a big splash player than shoring up their back-ups.

    Not putting all your eggs in one basket is a conservative approach that means you’re more likely to end up with some eggs but also more likely to end up with some breakage. I’m not sure a conservative approach is the right one for a crappy team.

  58. ivan on October 18th, 2011 10:34 am

    @Mike Snow:

    I stand corrected on Henderson. I’ll stand by the rest of my comment. The commenter I was replying to made a bald statement without making the distinctions that you made.

    I know my baseball history, and I am aware of all the points you raised. Clearly they’re correct, for all the reasons you stated, but they’re beside the point I was trying to make, which was that his flat statement was ridiculous. Plenty of players have succeeded as major league regulars after two seasons in AAA, for whatever reason they might have been there.

    I could have found any number of examples, but Hall of Famers were easily accessible, and rebutting people on blogs isn’t my highest priority.

  59. rsrobinson on October 18th, 2011 10:36 am

    How often have these veterans acquired on the cheap produced much of anything for the M’s? Russell Branyan in 2009 and Brendan Ryan are the only ones that comes to mind.

    I understand the concept Dave is promoting but it seems better in theory than in practice, at least as far as the M’s are concerned. Maybe I’ve become jaded by seeing the likes of Cust, Byrnes, Kotchman, Sweeney, etc. signed on the cheap and producing little, but it was understandable considering how barren the minor league system was at the time. That’s not the case any more.

    Right now I’m more interested in seeing the young players given the opportunity to develop than filling the roster with more cheap vets. Sign a couple for depth? Fine. As everyday players? Meh. I’d rather take a chance on Carp, Seager, Wells, and Robinson.

  60. Browl on October 18th, 2011 10:37 am

    Totally on board with this. Playing the kids sounds great but we need a backup plan if they don’t work out, and I really don’t think a guy like McGehee is going to stunt Seager’s developement.

    Start the season with McGehee, and if he is good and the team is good we have nothing to complain about.

    If he is good and the team is bad then flip him at the deadline.

    If he sucks play Seager.

    In the first scenario we have a good team so that’s nice, and in the other two scenarios Seager still gets something like 400 ABs so we still get to see his developement.

    Same goes for a guy like Pagan in the outfield.

  61. gwangung on October 18th, 2011 10:39 am

    Not putting all your eggs in one basket is a conservative approach that means you’re more likely to end up with some eggs but also more likely to end up with some breakage. I’m not sure a conservative approach is the right one for a crappy team.

    I’m not sure that this is a conservative approach. Constructing a team that has multiple options means that you’re burning the free agents you bought if the internal options come up big.

  62. eponymous coward on October 18th, 2011 11:06 am

    Figgins, Bradley, Kotchman, Cust, Kennedy, Endy Chavez, an on. We have been trying to build rosters with league average players. We just need to hit on a few that are really going to shine

    Or Aardsma, Branyan. When he HAS hit on it, we got 2009. When it didn’t work out, we got 2010-2011.

  63. bfgboy on October 18th, 2011 11:39 am

    [not a board]

  64. The_Waco_Kid on October 18th, 2011 12:45 pm

    What are the odds people making their MLB debut mid-season next year? (besides Hultzen) Truinfel? Catricala? Martinez? Chiang?

  65. Ibuprofen on October 18th, 2011 1:01 pm

    I’d be really surprised if Catricala doesn’t make a mid-season appearance if he makes AAA out of spring training and continues hitting like he has been.

  66. TumwaterMike on October 18th, 2011 1:57 pm

    I would say the possibility of tuinfel being here by the start of the season is slim. I see him going in a trade somewhere. There is no, position for him unless you want to stick him in the outfield.

    I’m still on the Andre Ethier bandwagon. I just have a hunch that the M’s could get him pretty reasonable in a trade. Say Truinfel, Cortes and some cash. Just my thought.

  67. Valenica on October 18th, 2011 2:11 pm

    I know my baseball history, and I am aware of all the points you raised. Clearly they’re correct, for all the reasons you stated, but they’re beside the point I was trying to make, which was that his flat statement was ridiculous. Plenty of players have succeeded as major league regulars after two seasons in AAA, for whatever reason they might have been there.

    I can’t believe I have to repeat myself again. I didn’t say players won’t succeed with two seasons in AAA, I just said most players who are going to succeed don’t need it. Jesus Montero did not learn a single thing hitting wise in his second AAA season, same thing with Jennings. They repeated for blocked/service time/defense reasons, not because they weren’t ready. This is just something I believe, not something I’m stating as true, and I think Z thinks the same way (to a more extreme extent), especially with the Seager/Peguero call up and indicating Franklin might start out of ST.

    Odds for mid-season call ups are something like Liddi/Robinson = Paxton > Hultzen > Franklin = Catricala > Chiang > Martinez = Truinfel.

  68. Steve Nelson on October 18th, 2011 2:41 pm

    @ rsrobinson on October 18th, 2011 10:36 am

    How often have these veterans acquired on the cheap produced much of anything for the M’s? Russell Branyan in 2009 and Brendan Ryan are the only ones that comes to mind.

    Bret Boone says “hello”.

  69. ivan on October 18th, 2011 4:22 pm

    No position for Triunfel? Baloney. He’s my sleeper pick to win the 3B job. I’m guessing that his projected hitting upside is way better than that of Seager or Martinez. I’m guessing that Liddi will be the one who goes in the trade, because the holes in his swing are bigger than Seager’s or Triunfel’s.

    That’s only my guess and people are welcome to pooh-pooh it at will.

  70. Valenica on October 18th, 2011 4:34 pm

    Triunfel (age 20 AA): .257/.286/.332
    Triunfel (age 21 AA): .281/.340/.392

    Martinez (age 20 AA): .289/.321/.426
    Martinez (age 20 AA Sea): .310/.326/.481

    Liddi (age 21 AA): .281/.353/.476

    Triunfel is a huge long shot to even play MLB, let alone start over Liddi, Seager, or Martinez. I know minor league numbers aren’t everything but Triunfel has zero power, and 3B is a power position. He might see time at SS if Franklin doesn’t work out but I don’t think he would succeed there either.

  71. gwangung on October 18th, 2011 5:27 pm

    Triunfel has zero power, and 3B is a power position.

    I don’t ever believe in “xx is a power position.”

    Offense, yes…but not power.

  72. Valenica on October 18th, 2011 5:48 pm

    Power is a function of offense. Look through 2011′s 3Bs with more than 300 PAs and basically every above average offensive player had at least .150 ISO if not .170 ISO, and if they didn’t they usually had high BABIPs with good walk rates.

    3B is an “offense” position, and offense needs power or high BABIP to work. One of those is projectable, the other is luck, so 3B is thus a “power” position, and Truinfel’s .072 AAA ISO isn’t offense.

  73. Paul B on October 18th, 2011 7:04 pm

    Triunfel has zero power, and 3B is a power position.

    Edgar Martinez (pre-1995 version) says hi.

  74. TumwaterMike on October 18th, 2011 7:09 pm

    Like I said, there is no position for Truinfel. If he hits at AAA maybe a utility role in the future. I’d say is best asset for the M’s is in a trade.

  75. Valenica on October 18th, 2011 7:21 pm

    Edgar Martinez (pre-1995 version) says hi.

    13% BB%, 11% K% with .140 ISO and .330 BABIP and tons of .900 OPS minor league seasons is super common and what Truinfel projects to be /sarcasm.

    Pre-1995 Edgar had good power, not the most but he made up for it with his elite eye, extremely low Ks, and good BABIP. Who else fits hit profile? Ian Kinsler. You know who has 13% BB, .110 ISO, and .310 BABIP? Bobby Abreau, he of .325 wOBA.

    Let me remind you Truinfel has yet to have 1 .800 OPS season in the minors, let alone .900. Truinfel is NOT Edgar Martinez. He doesn’t even have elite walking – his eye is as bad as Martinez’s.

  76. everett on October 18th, 2011 8:18 pm

    3B is an “offense” position, and offense needs power or high BABIP to work.

    Or a high OBP. Or, instead of high offense, average defense, high defense average offense could also work. Lets not get trapped into the idea that each position has to be filled by a specific “type” of player. We just need quality players.

  77. henryv on October 18th, 2011 9:43 pm

    Can we quit it with the snarky, sarcasm filled one-up-ism and gotcha stuff? Please?

    We’re better than this, and Dave having to heavily moderate wouldn’t be the best use of his time.

    Remember, we all have opinions, and we all are in this together. Be nice, be polite, and enjoy each other.

  78. Valenica on October 18th, 2011 10:53 pm

    Or a high OBP. Or, instead of high offense, average defense, high defense average offense could also work. Lets not get trapped into the idea that each position has to be filled by a specific “type” of player. We just need quality players.

    I’m not really thinking “types” as much as I’d like power in a 3B. Chone Figgins is as high OBP no power as you’ll get: career line 10% BB .330 BABIP .087 ISO for a 99 wRC+. That line would be good for 22nd in 2011 3B terms. For a position that’s middle of the road defensively, power should be easier to find than in C/SS/CF/2B, and it shows; 11 guys have better lines than Figgins despite weaker OBPs. The reason? power.

  79. Riles on October 19th, 2011 3:21 am

    I would much rather that we spend as little as possible on players signed to hold spots until our farm system produces the many players we still need. And with the rest of that money, we should throw it all towards the draft and IFA signings, since this is a much more cost efficient and smart way to invest long term in mlb talent. Currently in the MLB, catchers and third basemen are at a premium since there are so few good ones around, and the ones that do reach free agency cost more than our payroll could afford.

  80. TumwaterMike on October 19th, 2011 8:44 am

    To validate how far the M’s have gone in regards to their farm system: A couple of years ago Truinfel was toted as the next great prospect for the team. Now he may not fit into their future plans. Our farm system is getting stronger every year. We have to thank GMZ for that.

  81. TomC on October 19th, 2011 10:18 am

    Maybe I’ve become jaded by seeing the likes of Cust, Byrnes, Kotchman, Sweeney, etc. signed on the cheap and producing little

    Maybe we have been missing something. It strikes me that this litany of failure is probably evidence of poor major league scouting. I would add Figgins to this list as well.

    Good scouting, theoretically, would have predicted that these guys would not work out. I understand it is more of an art than a science but it seems we have had many more misses than hits on our major league acquisitions (pun intended). Shouldn’t we hold Mr. Zduriencik responsible for this?

    At least the scouting on draft picks seems to be satisfactory.

  82. Jordan on October 19th, 2011 10:41 am

    Good scouting, theoretically, would have predicted that these guys would not work out.

    The Rays scouts must’ve seen something ours didn’t with Kotchman. That or he must’ve changed his approach. No, it was probably just a high predictable BABIP.

    The process is good, the results not so much. Believe in the process.

  83. Chris_From_Bothell on October 19th, 2011 11:02 am

    The Rays scouts must’ve seen something ours didn’t with Kotchman. That or he must’ve changed his approach. No, it was probably just a high predictable BABIP.

    Actually, it was lasik to correct his vision. He was playing through 2010 without being able to see the darned ball.

    http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/article1168725.ece

  84. Chris_From_Bothell on October 19th, 2011 11:39 am

    The process is good, the results not so much. Believe in the process.

    At some point, if the process isn’t producing results, it’s hard to believe in. It needs more time, as it takes a while to be sure of the results of e.g. draft picks and low-level prospects from recent deals.

    But “focus on the process” has been the mantra since Z got here, in a year or two, questioning the process and/or people in charge of it is going to be valid.

  85. TomC on October 19th, 2011 11:58 am

    Actually, it was lasik to correct his vision. He was playing through 2010 without being able to see the darned ball

    Minor nit: According to the article it was an eye infection – he had lasik surgery several years prior.

    From the linked article:

    You can’t hit what you can’t see. That time-honored baseball axiom was never more real to Casey Kotchman than when he stood at the plate inspecting pitches last season.

    “It was kind of like looking through a dirty windshield wiper,” he said.

    . . .

    “My vision has been pristine so far, to say the least,” Kotchman said. “And I’m trying to get out of the bad habits I got into mechanically at the plate last year.”

    I had not seen this before but it excuses the major league scouts and indicts the rest of the organization. The guy is squinting up there and nobody thinks to have his eyes checked? Also, his hitting mechanics were poor and nobody thought to fix them or find out why?

  86. Pete Livengood on October 19th, 2011 1:00 pm

    TomC wrote:

    “I had not seen this before but it excuses the major league scouts and indicts the rest of the organization. The guy is squinting up there and nobody thinks to have his eyes checked?

    Maybe, to some extent, but this is just as much or more of an indictment against Kotchman. He knew or should have known he wasn’t seeing clearly, knew the difference (if he had lasik previously) and did and said nothing. Why?

    “Also, his hitting mechanics were poor and nobody thought to fix them or find out why?”

    We don’t know that nobody noticed or did anything to fix mechanical issues. I’d guess that they were tweaking him mechanically ALL THE TIME in an effort to get him going. You have to wonder whether any mechanical “fix” wouldn’t be masked by the basic lack of adequate vision, though. Because of that, no matter what they were trying to do, I’d speculate that he was instinctively undermining it in an effort to simply make contact with something he couldn’t really see. Again, I don’t think I’d put this one on the Mariners too much.

    Chris_From_Bothell wrote:

    [In response to shortbus' "question of whether the M’s are swinging at too many pitches, or if they just can’t hit the ball when they swing at it," "i]t’s the latter. …With the exception of Carp, and very obviously Peguero, the new guys’ O-Swing %s for 2011 were league average or better. So I don’t think it’s swinging at too many pitches outside. …Wedge’s preaching about aggressiveness was about being aggressive with hittable pitches. I think that gets misinterpreted here and at LL because of (justifiable) despair over declining OBP.”

    I’m so glad you mentioned this, Chris. It’s possible that I am being too optimistic, but reading the tea leaves (an example being in this piece by Shannon Drayer, where she says “Wedge encouraged his players to swing. Learn the strike zone, go after the fastball. He expects improvement with experience. We shall see…”), it was clear to me that the aggressive approach was secondary to learning the strike zone, with lots of K’s from young players the byproduct of that. This doesn’t mean it is a philosophy, or something that can or should be continued, so much as it is a process of becoming a better hitter. As Shannon said, we shall see.

  87. eponymous coward on October 19th, 2011 1:22 pm

    The process is good, the results not so much. Believe in the process.

    The point in having a process is to arrive at certain results, not merely process for the sake of saying “Yay! we followed a process!”.

    It’s also easy to have a smart GM (Shapiro, Beane) and go through some pretty dry spells for wins and losses.

  88. Jordan on October 19th, 2011 2:34 pm

    The point in having a process is to arrive at certain results, not merely process for the sake of saying “Yay! we followed a process!”.

    Agreed, we are seeing the effects in the minors, but we are still waiting to see some of the fruits in the bigs. As mentioned above, Triunfel used to be our top prospect and doesn’t seem to be much more than trade bait now. The bad Bavasi contracts are finally off the books and everything left is purely on Z and co. This offseason and 2012 should give us a better idea, until then I think we still have to be patient w/ Z.

    That Kotchman info. is disturbing. It seems like he was worth taking a flyer on…just one year later.

  89. Valenica on October 19th, 2011 3:04 pm

    The process is good, the results not so much. Believe in the process.

    If the process doesn’t produce results, it’s not a good process. However I don’t think Z’s process hasn’t produced results – people are angry he signed one year stop gap players that didn’t work out – they’re one year stop gap players! They weren’t supposed to work out! It’s hard finding 2 WAR guys who are signing 1 year contracts. In fact I’d say his process is working perfectly, since now we finally have an MLB ready team that’s young with potential and has good minor league depth.

    It sucks it took 3 years to get to this point, but that’s the mess Bavasi left with. A farm system ranked 30th, a team with Jose Lopez, Adrian Beltre (1 year left), Ichiro and Felix as the only 2+ WAR players, and bad contracts everywhere enough so that he was operating with a small market budget. I don’t think anyone would have won in that situation, not even Andrew Friedman or AA. The rebuilding process worked, and now it’s the development process, where he’ll identify the best players to get playing time going forward.

    I think it’ll be interesting to see how Epstein deals with the Cubs. They also have zero farm depth, very few MLB quality players, but more than we started with (barely) and more money. I think Cubs fans who think he can rebuild them in a year or two and go for contention are in for a surprise.

  90. The_Waco_Kid on October 19th, 2011 3:23 pm

    For flexibility, how bout Zambrano? He can pitch for us, or if our hitting sucks, he can slide over to DH!

  91. Chris_From_Bothell on October 19th, 2011 4:23 pm

    it was clear to me that the aggressive approach was secondary to learning the strike zone, with lots of K’s from young players the byproduct of that. This doesn’t mean it is a philosophy, or something that can or should be continued, so much as it is a process of becoming a better hitter.

    Very well said, I agree with this entirely. Unless of course Wedge spends all next year preaching aggressiveness on people who shouldn’t need it anymore. ;) Seriously, I expect Wedge to have a very different approach with the team this coming year, since the rookies should know better and the veterans should definitely know better.

    I think Cubs fans who think he can rebuild them in a year or two and go for contention are in for a surprise.

    I don’t think any Cub fan, in their deepest heart of hearts, seriously thinks about the club this way. Perennial losing team, and all that.

    And call me crazy, but I was half-hoping for Z to insert himself into the negotiations around the price for Epstein. Cubs send AA hitting prospects to the M’s; M’s send AA pitching prospects to the Sox; Sox send Theo to the Cubs. Everyone goes home happy.

  92. Mariners2620 on October 19th, 2011 4:25 pm

    What about BJ Upton for LF?

  93. Pete Livengood on October 19th, 2011 5:05 pm

    “What about BJ Upton for LF?”

    I think that could happen, but only if he comes in trade for very little, or as a free agent following a non-tender. He’s still arb-eligible (maybe his last year?) and may be a candidate to be non-tendered for $$ reasons, depending on the Rays’ OF depth – of which I know next to nothing. I know he lost his arb case in 2010 (but still made $3M that year), and made close to $5M last year, so he’s probably going to be somewhere in the $6.5M range. That’s a fair bit of money to pay for somebody who is only moderately better than average (106 and 115 OPS+ in the last two years, and .337 wOBA in each of those two years) and simply adds to a team FULL of no-contact guys (he has struck out more than 150 times in 4 of the last 5 years; his career K/162 games is 168 – wow). His defense is good enough to provide a decent alternative to Guti in CF if he doesn’t bounce back, though, and he’d be a very good LF. His combination of defense, power, and speed still make him overall a pretty good player (between a 4.0 and 5.0 WAR player in every year but one since 2007), and certainly an upgrade over anybody the Mariners currently have in the OF barring a Guti return to 2009 form, or an Ichiro return to pre-2011 form.

    BJ wouldn’t be my first choice, but I wouldn’t be horribly upset if they went after him.

  94. spankystout on October 20th, 2011 10:41 am

    What is up with the M’s players having undiagnosed medical issues? Kotchman, Guti, and Casper Wells… I mean what is the point of investing millions if you don’t even test your investments eye sight? Or if he can stand up straight? or digest food normally?

  95. gwangung on October 20th, 2011 1:30 pm

    If the process doesn’t produce results, it’s not a good process. However I don’t think Z’s process hasn’t produced results – people are angry he signed one year stop gap players that didn’t work out – they’re one year stop gap players! They weren’t supposed to work out! It’s hard finding 2 WAR guys who are signing 1 year contracts. In fact I’d say his process is working perfectly, since now we finally have an MLB ready team that’s young with potential and has good minor league depth.
    It sucks it took 3 years to get to this point, but that’s the mess Bavasi left with.

    I think it was Churchill who suggested that it takes at least 3-5 years for a GM to turn it around.

    It’s apparent to me that if you’re bringing in a GM, that means that either your major league talent acquisition is flawed or your minor league acquisition is flawed, or both. If you have a good farm system, and some talent on the major league level, it’ll take less time. If you don’t have the talent at the major league level, it’ll take a bit more time.

    Well, I think it’s clear that there was very little talent available to the Ms on either the major league OR minor league level. Ergo, Zduriencik needed time to build, and anything less than five years would be fortunate. If your minors are barren (and you’d have to say the Ms system was close to it), it’s going to take three drafts, maybe even four or five, to get it back into shape.

    And we’re just into the third draft right now….

  96. jjracoon on October 22nd, 2011 2:10 am

    If I’m reading WAR correctly, for the season the Mariners had a WAR of 6.3 while Texas had one of 51.5. That being said if Texas stayed the same and the Mariners wanted to match it, an improvement of 2 WAR would be needed for basically everyone. While I can see that for Ackley with a full season, Smoak, renewed Gutierrez & Ichiro, Hernandez & Pineda, I dont see too many others doing that. Ryan was 2.8 so cant expect too much more. Carp and the new Vargas maybe. Better upgrade some 0 to 2 for sure.

  97. Liam on October 22nd, 2011 9:12 am

    You’re not reading it correctly.

    The Mariners had a team WAR of 22.6
    Batters 5.1
    Pitchers 17.5

    The Rangers had a team WAR of 60.6
    Batters 38.9
    Pitchers 21.7

    It’s not as bad as the end of season WAR totals would have you believe. If the Mariners were in contention, Anthony Vasquez (-1.1) wouldn’t have been on the team, Erik Bedard and Doug Fister don’t get traded (+0.9 and +2.4), Chone Figgins would have had a shorter leash (-1.1), the Mariners trade for another bat (+1.0). You have to take this in account and all the dead weight the Mariners will be getting rid of over the Winter. Matthew over at Lookout Landing did some research on Throwing the Bums Out and found out that the 2011 Mariners gave 51% of their PA to players who weren’t on their team in 2010.

    24% of the 2011′s plate appearances were taken by players who are already no longer part of the organization. However, I am unsure that the number will climb significantly higher than that by this time next year.

  98. stevemotivateir on October 22nd, 2011 9:53 pm

    Dave, you mentioned the Mariners likely trying to move Figgins in a bad-contract swap. There was an article about Lackey being a possible target if Boston would eat some salary (yahoo). Do you think that’s a real possibility? What are some other possibilities that might pop-up? Looking at each team, I really can’t see any that could show a willingness to gamble on Figgins, unless a prospect was included. I’m also curious if the Mariners might have a shot at Jesus Montero if the Yankees were willing to deal him, and if so, if Vargas would interest them. I’d imagine they’d want starting pitching in return.

  99. Jordan on October 23rd, 2011 2:22 pm

    Dave mentioned Zito and $ as a match for Figgins.

    Montero was the centerpiece for Lee I doubt the Yankees would include him for Vargas. However, if Vargas shows sustained improvement with his new mechanics/approach we may be able to flip him when Hultzen/Paxton etc. are ready. Of course this all depends on if he Vargas improves, we have other options and perhaps more importantly what other pitchers are available on the market.

  100. stevemotivateir on October 23rd, 2011 9:30 pm

    Yeah, I remember him mentioning Zito. That’s probably more likely than Lacky, but I’m curious if there are other names we haven’t heard, that might surface shortly. I remember Montero nearly dealt for Lee as well, before the Rangers caved in and included Smoak. I don’t see Adam Moore rebounding and being a solid back-up or starter. Montero does interest me.

  101. Valenica on October 23rd, 2011 11:37 pm

    Yankees only trade their prospects for top pitchers. If you wanted Montero you would be looking to deal Pineda or Felix, Vargas even with the improvements would never work. They supposedly didn’t even offer Montero for Greinke. A more realistic return for Vargas would be similar to what Fister got, but worse.

    Zambrano has also been linked to Figgins but Zambrano is the definition of clubhouse cancer which is the last thing a team of rookies need. You might also hear names like Brett Myers, Carlos Guillen, JD Drew, but they’re long shots.

  102. stevemotivateir on October 24th, 2011 5:25 pm

    The question was for Dave, but thanks for your 2 cents. I know the Yankees go after top of the line pitchers. I didn’t ask if Vargas alone could influence them, I know it would take a prospect (or two) with him. I’m just curious if it’s a possibility. Further, it would be interesting to hear a name from the farm that might interest to Yankees.

    Hadn’t heard Zambrano being linked, but I couldn’t imagine that happening either. JD Drew would be real interesting, to me anyway, but I’d agree that he would be a long shot.

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