M’s Non-Tender Dan Cortes and Chris Gimenez

Dave · December 13, 2011 at 9:33 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Last night, the Mariners opened up two spots on the 40 man roster by declining to tender contracts to either Dan Cortes or Chris Gimenez. This was not a cost-savings maneuver, as neither were arbitration eligible and the team could have simply renewed their contracts at the league minimum for 2012. This was the team deciding that they’d rather have the open 40-man spots and determining that neither was worth a Major League contract for next year.

With Gimenez, that’s par for the course. He’s a replacement level catcher who has bounced between Triple-A and the Majors for most of his career. He’s the definition of freely available talent, and there’s no reason to use any resources to retain him. Cortes, though, is a young live arm, and those don’t really grow on trees. That the organization was willing to cut him loose despite his velocity and youth should tell you just how bad he was last year.

His command was bad, but that’s always been true, even when the Mariners plucked him out of the Royals system in the Yuniesky Betancourt deal. Hard throwers often struggle to find the zone, and some of them are able to succeed in spite of lingering problems throwing strikes, so the walks weren’t the reason Cortes was cut loose.

No, that would be the inexplicable fact that he was remarkably hittable in the big leagues. We’re dealing with a small sample since he only threw 191 pitches in the Majors last year, but of those 191 pitches, he only got 11 swinging strikes. Opposing batters swung and missed at Cortes’ stuff at the same rate (5.8%) as they did with Aaron Laffey and Blake Beaven. Even Anthony Vazquez generated more swinging strikes than Cortes did.

He threw hard, but he threw straight and in lousy locations, so opposing hitters simply had the option of watching a pitch soar out of the zone or taking a good solid swing at a hittable fastball. Cortes didn’t fool anyone, or show anything that resembled a Major League quality pitch. Cortes was the walking embodiment of why there’s more to pitching than straight up velocity.

That velocity will allow him to catch on with another team, and who knows, maybe he’ll harness his stuff one day and turn into a decent reliever. But, if you want to stay on the 40 man roster, you need to show some reason for hope, and just throwing hard isn’t enough. It’s pretty telling that the organization chose to keep Steve Delabar around and not Cortes, even though the skillset is similar. In his brief tryout, Delabar showed that he could get hitters to swing through his fastball. That’s a good place to start, and until Cortes starts throwing his fastball by Major League hitters, he won’t be of much use.


20 Responses to “M’s Non-Tender Dan Cortes and Chris Gimenez”

  1. senecastreet on December 13th, 2011 10:03 am

    Gimenez was a no brainer, but I don’t think cutting Cortes was the right choice. Everyone talks about his command, but until he was injured, he was hovering around a 3.40 ERA and doing pretty well.

    Now that we’ve lost hard-throwing Cortes and Lueke, what’s to look forward to in our bullpen next year? Furbush?

  2. vertigoman on December 13th, 2011 10:08 am

    Cortes also didn’t help his cause by breaking his hand in some kind of barfight then injuring his rotar cuff in another off field incident.

  3. senecastreet on December 13th, 2011 10:12 am

    You talk about his swinging strike percentage, but it was almost 12% in 2010 and if you discount his last few games before he was injured, I’m sure it will look the same for 2011. In his last 3 games, he allowed 5 runs and 6 hits in 2.2 IP, or a quarter of his total IP.

    Also, the league average for swing-percentage is only around 8.5 usually — if he could post +10, like he did in ’10 and most likely did before his injury derailed him, thats above league average.

    Sure, he was injuring himself off of the field, but the guy will make the league minimum. Maybe have a clause in the contract that lets the Ms walk away if he hurts himself again.

  4. thedude1987 on December 13th, 2011 10:44 am

    I was just going to say he just had rotator cuff surgery like 6 weeks ago.

  5. maqman on December 13th, 2011 10:59 am

    There has to be better users of the 40-man roster space.

  6. Mariners35 on December 13th, 2011 11:00 am

    Now there’s room on the 40-man for Fielder and Beltran! (kidding)

  7. Westside guy on December 13th, 2011 11:50 am

    I don’t know if anyone knows the answer to this… Cortes was apparently injured in a non-baseball situation, but was on our roster at the time. Are the Mariners still responsible for managing his rehab (as they were with Endy Chavez, who obviously was hurt by an incompetent boob Yuni on the field)?

  8. senecastreet on December 13th, 2011 12:10 pm

    I did a little more search on what I said, and apparently his SwSt% was actually lower in the 8IP before he was apparently injured (5%) than after (9%). Either way, his sample size is pretty small in all cases. It will be interesting to see who picks him up, but now what is left for our bullpen?

    CL Brandon League
    SU Shawn Kelley
    SU Tom Wilhelmsen
    MR Chance Ruffin
    MR Steve Delabar
    LR Charlie Furbush

    I mean, all of those guys could individually have a decent year, but to expect it from all would be crazy. Wish we went out and got Saito, IMO Diamondbacks got him for a steal even at his age/health concerns. Maybe we can swap Figgins for K-Rod.

  9. kennyb on December 13th, 2011 1:28 pm

    Don’t think for a second that the players you named above will be the bullpen next year.
    I would be surprised if more than 4 are still here in April.

  10. msfanmike on December 13th, 2011 2:07 pm

    The M’s are going to be able to find better options than Dan Cortes for their bullpen either via FA signing(s) or already within their system. Releasing him is no real loss.

    Did anybody notice Luke Scott was also non-tendered? Assuming he is healthy, he might be a good candidate for filling the 1B/DH/Corner Outfield need at a reasonable cost … assuming he comes with a pre-paid publicist.

  11. bookbook on December 13th, 2011 2:35 pm

    The top four there are actually a fairly good bullpen core. Stephen Pryor may be ready to join them by midyear.

  12. riversurge24 on December 13th, 2011 3:09 pm

    It appears to me anyway that the Mariners are trying to wait out the Prince Fielder saga and see where that ends up. Unfortunately we could wind up with either Prince Fielder or nothing at all as the remaining FA’s will be gone.

  13. gwangung on December 13th, 2011 3:15 pm

    Um, WHICH free agents are we missing out on?

    Seems to me that there’s only two highly visible free agents, there are a lot of smaller free agents, but those haven’t been snapped up from what I can tell.

  14. senecastreet on December 13th, 2011 3:29 pm

    I fully expect Wilhelmsen, Kelley and League to be effective in the pen next year and Ruffin would be a safe bet. I do think Furbush will be there to start the year, too, though. There’s no reason not to — he stunk when he started and had much more success from the pen. I’d also pick Beavan to start over him, and if we’re getting a veteran guy like Z wants, that doesn’t leave a spot in the rotation.

    Delabar is an interesting case, as I expect him to begin the year in AAA. But then we only have five guys in the pen, and we will probably need 7.

  15. JoshJones on December 13th, 2011 4:25 pm

    we only have five guys in the pen, and we will probably need 7

    As the off season continues and the M’s continue to make no significant moves i’m becoming more certain that JackZ intends to get Fielder. However, if he dosen’t I would expect him to go hard at upgrading the pitching staff either by acquiring a SP like Gio Gonzales or signing Yu Darvish which would push Furbush or Beaven to the pen.

    The idea of Felix, Pineda, and Darvish for the next 3-5 years is very intriging. Especially with our crop of young SP talent. Acquiring Darvish would give us the opportunity to use our prospects to acquire some offense if we lose out on Fielder.

  16. Westside guy on December 13th, 2011 5:34 pm

    I think it is way too early for us to attempt divining Jack Zduriencik’s intentions for this off-season. I’m not sure why people have this perception of inaction on the part of the Mariners when most teams haven’t done much so far either. There have been a few news-grabbing happenings to be sure; but a lot of teams still have yet to make any significant moves.

  17. Jamison_M on December 13th, 2011 6:02 pm

    “Acquiring Darvish…”

    The insane posting fee that it would take to negotiate with Darvish is probably going to deter the Mariners’ interest.

  18. okinawadave on December 13th, 2011 7:19 pm

    The insane posting fee that it would take to negotiate with Darvish is probably going to deter the Mariners’ interest.

    As a Japan resident, I really hope you’re wrong. Japan and I would LOVE to see him go to the M’s. It would be a great PR move.
    But I know you are probably right.. 🙁

  19. hmbaseball7 on December 14th, 2011 12:04 am

    What about Joe Saunders? Is he a better option than Francis?

  20. mwb on December 15th, 2011 6:04 pm

    Turns out the Mariners wanted Gimenez after all, but only as a free agent.

    I guess the M’s wanted *some* sort of FA magnet in case they don’t get Fielder.

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