Rebuilding and the Draft, 2012 Edition

Jay Yencich · February 13, 2012 at 6:30 am · Filed Under Mariners, Minor Leagues 

You may remember that last year, as the season was opening up, I wrote a post that analyzed the Mariners efforts at rebuilding. In brief, it was depressing. We determined that only two of the four drafts yielded much of anything and what few productive players we had went elsewhere pretty quickly. This year, I’ve decided to bump up the timetable on that a little bit and get it out of the way at the beginning of spring training in light of the fact that there weren’t a whole lot of external acquisitions. Oh sure, you thought that because spring training was starting and we were all starting to think about baseball coming back, you’d be able to get through mostly uplifting and optimistic articles. Not so, suckers.

We’re getting closer in relative terms, but as the old saying goes, old sins cast long shadows. I forget what WAR I was using before, but I’m using FanGraphs now, which I type out partially as an attempt to get myself to remember it next year. Let’s go and become despondent now, shall we?

2003 Draft:
Graduates:
CF Adam Jones (1), LHP Ryan Feierabend (3), LHP Eric O’Flaherty (6)
Yield: 11.8 WAR (-0.1 with Mariners)
Biggest Contributor: Jones, 9.2 WAR (0.1 with Mariners)

The bulk of it, I think I said last year. There were a lot of picks that could have been something but were derailed. This may include Feierabend, who still hasn’t seen major league time since 2008. It depends on how much you think of him. Maybe you don’t think of him. The notion of prospects panning out to nothing is no new revelation in the overall reckoning, even if it seems like more of an array of factors here, but looking over the list again, it’s interesting to me that there aren’t even guys we could have signed that would have done something. Scott Maine, whom we picked up in the 15th round that year and couldn’t come to terms with, has seen twenty total innings with the Cubs and been worth -0.1 WAR. He could yet turn into something, as he’s always run impressive strikeout rates, but his walk rate hovers around four per nine innings and that’s no good. The other guy who made it was Doug Mathis, now with the division-rival Rangers. He’s been worth -0.1 as well, though his skillset doesn’t involve strikeouts. Not having strikeouts as a pitcher is kind of a bummer.

To add a little bit to last year’s commentary, the first “hey, wait a second…” move to me of Zduriencik’s tenure was designating O’Flaherty for assignment, considering that we continue to look for a left-handed reliever in his absence. O’Flaherty probably won’t be as good as last year’s 1.6 WAR going forward (his strand rate was 92.3%! That was third-best among major league relievers!), but he seemed like a neat piece to have around, and a local guy to boot. Perhaps I’m being irrational again. But it does seem that relievers can be a bit of a blind spot for Zduriencik. That Lucas Luetge Rule 5 pick this winter has not made any more sense with time.

2004 Draft:
Graduates:
UT Matt Tuiasosopo (3), C Rob Johnson (4), RHP Mark Lowe (5), CF Michael Saunders (11)
Yield: 1 WAR (0.9 with Mariners)
Biggest Contributor: Lowe, 1.8 WAR (1.5 with Mariners)

Ahahahahahaha…. pfft haha… oh…. mercy. We lost value this year and Tui didn’t even have to play. He’s even gone to the Mets now! Rob Johnson started 67 games for the Padres and was even worse in the NL, which is perplexing. Lowe was actually a positive contributor for the Rangers in limited time, but then Saunders accumulated -0.5 WAR for us as his hitting managed to find a new low (defense was fine though). Saunders is still around, but even considering that, we’re close to that horizon where the players we drafted are no longer generating returns for us. Unless Lowe comes back, or something.

I overlooked it last year, but James Russell, who was pretty well liked as a draft prospect and didn’t come to terms with us because, you know, 37th round and all (we even picked him twenty rounds higher the next season!), went over to the Cubs three years later in the 14th round. He’s had a bit of a dinger problem in the major leagues and could have struck out more guys last year, but he was a close-to-neutral contributor then in spite of all the hits he gave up. Think about this for a moment. I am talking about a player that generated -0.2 WAR last year because in context, it does seem like something worth talking about.

2005 Draft:
Graduates:
C Jeff Clement (1), LHP Justin Thomas (4), RHP Anthony Varvaro (12)
Yield: -0.7 WAR (-0.4 with Mariners)
Biggest Contributor: Thomas, -0.2 WAR (0.0 with Mariners) or Clement, -0.2 WAR (-0.1 with Mariners)

I may have reached that magical point at which I can regard this and merely feel numb. Clement had his injuries and all, but it’s still strange to consider because I don’t know that any of us thought that he pick was going to turn out as bad as it did. He came out of a college program! He had the national home run record for a prep player! Be baffled with me! Hindsight can allow us to moan about “oh, we could have gotten Tulo and we were looking at him but we needed a catcher blah blah blah”, yeah, and Clement batted .275/.370/.497 in Tacoma in 2007. He was hitting .335/.455/.676 there in 2008 in limited time. Moving through the other names, Varvaro helped the Braves last year, but Thomas did not see time with the Pirates after giving up twenty-one hits in 13.0 innings while running a 5/5 K/BB in 2010. His minor league numbers were actually pretty decent that year. Not so much this year.

I can’t really go over this and pick out many names that blossomed as they were drafted again, which is turning out to be a recurring thing. The only one is Lance Lynn who accumulated 0.6 WAR last year in 34.2 innings for those guys that won the World Series. I’d give him good odds at being the most valuable pick we made going forward from that draft. I’ll bet that someone clever is going to swing by and say “If he signed with the Mariners, he never would have made it to the big leagues LOL.” I’ve certainly never heard that one before. You must have many wonderful insights.

2006 Draft:
Graduates:
RHP Brandon Morrow (1), RHP Chris Tillman (2), RHP Nate Adcock (5), C Adam Moore (6), RHP Doug Fister (7), RHP Kam Mickolio (18)
Yield: 18.6 WAR (7.6 with Mariners)
Biggest Contributor: Fister, 8.8 overall (6.4 with Mariners)

Last year, this was the best looking of the Fontaine drafts and this year, hey, it looks even better. And the Mariners will have even less of the overall value from it going forward. Great.

For about three days, that was where my evaluation ended. I don’t rightly know how to extend it because at this stage, the Fister trade looks pretty bad. But there’s a lot that would be hard to evaluate about it in so short a time span and every time I’ve tried to be angry about it, I’ve subsequently felt somewhat dumb. The negative aspects are pretty plain: Wells had vertigo, making evaluation of him tricky; Furbush gave up a lot of pulled contact as Marc and Matthew have discussed; Ruffin, while he has been ranked in the top 10 for a lot of prospectors, is still a reliever and maybe not even the best one in our system; and the line between projecting Francisco Martinez to be a contributor based on his tools and projecting Carlos Triunfel to be a contributor based on his tools is a finer one than I’m really comfortable with. Fister also blossomed into an unusually dominant pitcher and only got better after the trade.

But if I have to turn around and be objective about it, I should probably consider the other side. Wells isn’t always going to have vertigo (I hope?). Furbush has the fastball going for him and it’s not as though the rest of the toolbox is empty. Ruffin has his place in the system and will likely be a big part of a dominant team-controlled bullpen in the near future. And Martinez, well, I’m still less than enthusiastic about that type of player, but last year represented a step forward for him and he hit as many dingers in 33 games in Jackson as he did in 89 games in Lakeland the previous year. I don’t really know if Fister is going to continue to be that awesome, but we may yet get some value out of this thing. I swear I’m not just trying to convince myself of this.

Anyway, going back to the draft itself, much value here, and you can go back to last year’s post to get the bulk of it. It’s just depressing that Moore is the only one left now. I eventually came around to the idea of liking Moore before he got injured, but “extensive tear” in the meniscus is not something I ever want to hear about with a catcher. I don’t blame the M’s for pursuing Jaso and Montero to add depth.

2007 Draft:
Graduates:
3B Matt Mangini (1s), RHP Shawn Kelley (11)
Yield: -0.2 WAR (-0.2 WAR with Mariners)
Biggest Contributor: Kelley, 0.0 WAR

The new season means another opportunity to mess around with a year’s worth of selections. Did you know that our 2009 class, which includes Anthony Vasquez, has already been more productive than most of these groups? The book is hardly closed on 2007, after all, Carroll had a .378 wOBA for the Mavericks last season and managed to stay mostly healthy whereas previously it seemed as though he might be confined to a bubble at some point in his career, but there remains a good chance that the only contributors from this class end up being marginal ones. Except for Shawn Kelley, who will always be a major contributor in my fandom.

To go over the broad strokes… Aumont went away in a trade, became a starter and then not a starter again, and still suffers from command issues. Mangini has had injuries, worse plate discipline than expected, and only slugged particularly well in one season (he may be recently out of baseball). Almonte was a boom or bust tools guy that has not been so much on the boom end of the spectrum, except for some dingers and hilarious strikeouts. Carroll has been mostly injured. Gallagher was almost entirely injured. Dunigan has also been boom or bust and, like Johermyn Chavez, provides an interesting test of prospect evaluation. McOwen was looking like a 4th or 5th OF before his shoulder injury. Hill and Hume have both been injured recently. There were a couple of guys that were picked later who seemed like sleepers at the time, such as Colin Buckborough and Brooks Mohr, but both washed out with injuries after a couple of seasons. Various other reliever types who initially looked promising ended up in the Limbo of High Desert and were seldom heard from again. There was also Brodie Downs, who was our Tom Wilhelmsen/Steve Delabar before either of those guys were in the system. I’m not seeing any major missed signings looking over this, since we got Forrest Snow a few years later anyway. Early returns seem unimpressive, and may become “disaster” in time, but there’s a non-zero chance that this isn’t abysmal.

Conclusions:

If you’re still with me by now, you might have something of an intellectual pain tolerance which means that you’re okay in my book. To put things quantifiably again, we’re looking at 30.5 total WAR from five years of draft classes and the bulk of that is squarely in two of them. Of that, we could call 7.8 WAR our own, a little over a quarter, which is nowhere near as efficient as some might like. I know I for one would like to see the Mariners play better baseball and make smarter moves. But next year I’ll have the 2008 draft to evaluate too and boy won’t that be fun. Maybe by that time we’ll have had one player from that class to make the majors. It better not be Josh Fields.

Anyway, the basic thrust of this article has been the same as it was the last time I did it. Rebuilding efforts require good young players. Zduriencik had little to work with, and still seems to be trying to build up that foundation. It’s kind of a slog to get through at times, but what we’ve seen so far from him on the draft front has proved more inspired than his predecessors, in a way that talking in relative terms doesn’t seem to do justice without hyperbole. There will eventually come a day when I don’t have to get up and do this because the Mariners won’t suck anymore.

Comments

38 Responses to “Rebuilding and the Draft, 2012 Edition”

  1. GrandmasRyebread on February 13th, 2012 7:00 am

    While this can be one of the most depressing things to read on a Monday morning it at least proves that times are changing here in Seattle. Thanks for the post Jay and cheers/hopes to not having to look back on the most recent drafts and seeing a total WAR of 0 in the future ever again.

  2. CCW on February 13th, 2012 8:51 am

    In an interesting twist, I think this should be required reading for all those who point to the M’s and say that rebuilding through the draft doesn’t work. If the M’s had had average, or even mediocre, drafts during the Bavasi years, they’d actually be good right now. In other words, you can’t point to the M’s as an example of what happens to a team that tries to rebuild and fails. Rather, they are an example of what happens to a team that sis ubjected to flat-out incompetence at the GM position for five years. It’s ugly.

    The amazing thing about the Bavasi years is that if Bavasi had done nothing – literally, not made any trades or signed any free agents – the M’s would have won just as many games on his watch as they did, and would be way way way better now.

  3. Mariners35 on February 13th, 2012 9:05 am

    Thanks as always for your thorough analysis. The dose of perspective is good when we’re going into a season with such a different team and organization than we’ve seen in years.

  4. Lance on February 13th, 2012 10:14 am

    Jay,

    Just wanted to say I enjoyed your old blog before it went down for good. Never did learn to post on your current IP, nothing ever worked, but I still enjoyed reading it it regularly. Thanks for a job well done. It’ll be missed. You’ve always done good stuff.

  5. dchappelle on February 13th, 2012 10:17 am

    In hindsight it seems downright foolish that most/many of us were upset or outraged when Fontaine was given the boot.

    http://www.ussmariner.com/2008/10/28/fontaine-shown-the-door/

  6. Johnny Slick on February 13th, 2012 10:28 am

    Yeah, I see this kind of thing and begin to wonder how much longer one can give Jack Z a pass for the on-the-field performance? I mean, any proper quantification here’s going to be a Bayesian one instead of an either-or type, but your point is well made: whatever Jack’s own faults are, right now is the time where the team would be winning games based on drafts from the mid-2000s, and the fact that they aren’t doing so isn’t really his fault in and of itself.

    That being said, what *was* the deal with not getting enough for Fister? Was it really that Jack Z panicked about the outfield situation? Was it that Fister doesn’t really have the look of a great pitcher (i.e. he doesn’t have a 95+ fastball or a truly wicked curve) and so management didn’t understand the goodness of the thing that was in their hands? Some sort of combination?

    One other question… Your excellent post on Fangraphs last week talked to whether or not you can just project good pitching more easily than you can good hitting. Well… what was up with Fields, then? I thought the whole point of that move was that he was close to ML ready and filled a hole that the M’s had (which is a terrible thing to do with the first round of the MLB draft, but I’m preaching to the choir here, I’m sure). Is he just a different pitcher than what he looked like coming out? Was our scouting that bad? Did Bavasi see in Fields what he wanted to see and damn everyone else?

    Thanks for the thoughtful, if painful article.

  7. maqman on February 13th, 2012 10:56 am

    Good to read you again Jay, even though it hurts a bit. It’s nice to really believe things are going to keep getting better than those train wrecked attempts at a draft.

  8. roosevelt on February 13th, 2012 11:07 am

    Depressing. Thanks Yencich. LOL.
    Back in the day, the prevailing viewpoint by sports writers and bloggers was: Bavassi was lame at signing free agents and making trades, but he was building a strong farm system. Yikes.

  9. Paul B on February 13th, 2012 11:50 am

    Is it too early to forecast what the results of the 2008 and 2009 drafts might be? Or at least, what the upside looks like it could possibly be based on the prospects that are still in the system?

  10. smb on February 13th, 2012 12:29 pm

    The only possible context to this mess that even makes a little bit of sense to me is that the other AL West teams were pooling their money until they had a pot that exceeded Fontaine’s salary from the M’s, they then gave BF their collection of cash, and he in turn then set forth to over-zealously sabotage the M’s farm system from the inside out. Knowing that he’d have to pick at least a few talented players here and there to keep it from looking too suspicious, Fontaine sneakily did so, and the other AL West teams fretted not, simply relying on Bavasi to quickly do away with any actual talent that slipped through the cracks.

  11. CCW on February 13th, 2012 12:37 pm

    Another interesting thing to point out is that Gillick actually cost us draft picks, too, because he was so into signing free agents. So you can blame the first terrible drafts on Gillick as well. And then of course Bavasi, with the Sexson and Beltre signings, piled on.

  12. groundzero55 on February 13th, 2012 12:44 pm

    That being said, what *was* the deal with not getting enough for Fister? Was it really that Jack Z panicked about the outfield situation? Was it that Fister doesn’t really have the look of a great pitcher (i.e. he doesn’t have a 95+ fastball or a truly wicked curve) and so management didn’t understand the goodness of the thing that was in their hands? Some sort of combination?

    I think it was just Jack trying to make a trade from a position of strength just as he did with Pineda this year. And I daresay the jury is still out on the Fister trade anyway. I don’t yet think it was necessarily “bad.” We got a fistful of decent, cheap players on the cusp of ML readiness for basically one pitcher. I liked Fister, but I think when the kids show up, we will be in good shape rotation-wise.

  13. Johnny Slick on February 13th, 2012 12:58 pm

    I think a lot of the trade depends on whether or not Furbush can overcome his gopheritis. If not, a homerunny pitcher, a middle reliever, a 4th OFer, and a toolsy SS who might not ever actually play in the bigs isn’t really such a great return for a guy who, after all, was legitimately a top-25 pitcher last year. There’s a solid possibility that in their best years for the M’s, all those guys’ WARs added together won’t add up to the 3-4 you can expect from Fister at this point. I don’t think I’d *quite* go so far as to call Doug Fister an “ace” or a “#1 starter” but he’s really good at what he does.

  14. MT on February 13th, 2012 1:18 pm

    Jay, excellent work as usual.

    I just had some opinions, not to the article, but to the comments.

    Regarding Fielder, I continue to read so much about how the team should have not signed him so they could have drafted someone else the year after. I understand the sentiment, but at the same time, you have to think about what that would do to Fielder. Basically, Fielder’s future would have been jerked around because of a regime change in Seattle. He would have to re-enter the draft(I think?) simply based upon the unilateral decision of Seattle. I don’t know if there is any requirement for MLB teams to negotiate in good faith with players, but even without such a requirement, I don’t think that would have been fair to Fielder. I’m pretty sure Jack didn’t want Fielder, but the drafted player should not be the one to suffer because of a regime change. So I personally think the team did the right thing by signing him. Not logical, but I support the decision.

    Second, regarding how everyone continues to argue that the M’s didn’t get fair value for Fister. Fister was pretty good before he left Seattle, but he took another step forward after leaving Seattle. Could or should have the team foreseen Fister further improving? I don’t know, but I don’t think they saw him improving further, and I think they thought they were selling high. You win some, you lose some. Also, the trade might still turn out okay for the M’s as well.

  15. MrZDevotee on February 13th, 2012 1:23 pm

    Johnny,
    Given their makeup, I’d wait to put a handle on the Fister trade… And I’d disagree that “in their best years” those guys won’t collectively match Fister’s WAR.

    Fister came back down to earth a bit when the post-season came around (9 runs in 17 innings). And I think as his division learns more about him, his regular season numbers will settle in, too. Expecting more than 2 WAR out of Fister on average is probably overly optimistic.

    And it’s not a stretch to believe Wells, Furbush AND Martinez could each, individually, end up being worth as much as Fister going forward… (Leaving out Chance Ruffin)… Heck, many folks think Martinez is the best player that changed hands in that deal.

    Of course, time will tell– and it’s all speculation at this point. But I think trading a non-ace (presumably) pitcher for another non-ace pitcher, and potential upgrades at your two biggest areas of concern (LF and 3B) makes for a pretty solid trade overall.

    (Lest we forget the bad feelings when we traded Randy Johnson to Houston for the unknown minor leaguers John Halama, Freddy Garcia, and Carlos Guillen).

  16. MissingEdgar on February 13th, 2012 1:36 pm

    To put these drafts into perspective, how much WAR value, total and retained, would you have expected a competently run team to produce in those five years? How well did the best run teams do? I have no idea just how bad this is, even though it sounds pretty lousy.

  17. Johnny Slick on February 13th, 2012 3:00 pm

    I could be way off the mark here but ISTR Guillen and Garcia in particular being rated way, way higher than these folks. All three were also IIRC considered close to major league ready (I think there might have a 4th in that deal too… wasn’t Antonio Perez a throw-in?*). Garcia and Guillen were if memory serves the top 2 prospects in the Astros’ organization at the time; in any case I remember their actual careers as they played out being not terribly out of bounds from what everyone expected at the time of the trade. On the flip side, Randy Johnson was also a much, much better pitcher with a much, much longer pedigree than Fister, so I don’t know that the comparison stands on either side.

    **BBRef says… no. Halama was a PTBNL though.

  18. just a fan on February 13th, 2012 3:11 pm

    Well I like that Tulo has been worth 24.5 WAR versus our combined totals for 2004 and 2005 of 0.3 WAR. Yes it’s hindsight, but news reports say the M’s changed their mind over that weekend from Tulo to Clement. So it’s a little more valid than the Morrow complaints. (For the record, I’m not complaining. I think it’s funny now.) :(

    My question is, what’s the value of the traded pieces? For instance, League was a return for Morrow, and the four kids from Detroit for Fister. Also Bedard could be apportioned over a couple drafts.

    Ah, I feel a little better. :|

  19. formerstarQB16 on February 13th, 2012 4:10 pm

    Wow… that link dchappelle posted is a textbook lesson in humility.

  20. eponymous coward on February 13th, 2012 5:15 pm

    And it’s not a stretch to believe Wells, Furbush AND Martinez could each, individually, end up being worth as much as Fister going forward… (Leaving out Chance Ruffin)…

    But it’s also not a stretch to think that Wells is a 4th OF in a ballpark that tortures RHB, Furbush might just be Ryan Feierabend MK II, Martinez washes out, Ruffin’s a decent bullpen guy, and Fister turns into a 3ish WAR pitcher who’s cost controlled for a while. In which case, Detroit probably wins that trade.

    As for RJ- he was a 3 month rental. Fister is not. Has a big impact on the value you get for this (Houston gave up a lot more than they should have, probably, given how that trade turned out.)

  21. Jay Yencich on February 13th, 2012 5:25 pm

    Okay I’m back. Here are some responses?

    In hindsight it seems downright foolish that most/many of us were upset or outraged when Fontaine was given the boot.

    Fontaine had a method with some amount of intrigue to it, what with the selection of draft prospects that had either transferred a bunch or had recent injury scares dropping their stock, but it was ultimately a strategy better suited to rounds 11-25 than it was 1-10, as was the case sometimes. You could argue it blew up a few times for him, that’s fine, but Fontaine probably should have been regarded with a bit more skepticism than we initially gave him and I wasn’t terribly upset to see him go. It seemed like a position within the front office that we could upgrade.

    Yeah, I see this kind of thing and begin to wonder how much longer one can give Jack Z a pass for the on-the-field performance? I mean, any proper quantification here’s going to be a Bayesian one instead of an either-or type, but your point is well made: whatever Jack’s own faults are, right now is the time where the team would be winning games based on drafts from the mid-2000s, and the fact that they aren’t doing so isn’t really his fault in and of itself.

    Like Fontaine, Zduriencik isn’t flawless and has particular blindspots, though one could make a dataless case that Morrow needed a change of scenery. I wonder at this time whether or not these moves we’ve seen were made knowing in a way that the first year was not necessarily a great representation of reality within the rebuilding effort.

    That being said, what *was* the deal with not getting enough for Fister? Was it really that Jack Z panicked about the outfield situation? Was it that Fister doesn’t really have the look of a great pitcher (i.e. he doesn’t have a 95+ fastball or a truly wicked curve) and so management didn’t understand the goodness of the thing that was in their hands? Some sort of combination?

    Fister was an effective pitcher in a a sort of Minnesota Twins way, but again we have to remember that based on the information we had at the time, there wasn’t a compelling reason to believe that he would be the kind of pitcher he was in Detroit. That said, I would probably argue (devil’s advocate or no) that the pieces brought in have value in their own right. I’m more comfortable with the idea of having a winning team that features Casper Wells than I am with a winning team that features Carlos Peguero. Furbush, whatever he does, will mean more to us than David Pauley. Ruffin could be a vital bullpen component. Even with the boom or bust risk of Martinez, even if you look at the group as a whole as little better than stopgaps, they’re better than what we had and Fister would have been biding time for the rest of our pitching prospects to come together anyway. It’s a slightly askew take on things, but I don’t think that it’s a bad one. We might have been able to get more value. None of us know that for certain.

    One other question… Your excellent post on Fangraphs last week talked to whether or not you can just project good pitching more easily than you can good hitting. Well… what was up with Fields, then? I thought the whole point of that move was that he was close to ML ready and filled a hole that the M’s had (which is a terrible thing to do with the first round of the MLB draft, but I’m preaching to the choir here, I’m sure). Is he just a different pitcher than what he looked like coming out? Was our scouting that bad? Did Bavasi see in Fields what he wanted to see and damn everyone else?

    You’re confusing me with someone who writes for Fangraphs (if you think I’m Dave, then this is weirder than the Jeff/Matthew confusion, I think), but I’ll answer anyway. Fields was a panic selection. Any time you pick up a reliever that early, you’re saying to the world that you have it together in a way that better be justified later. It wasn’t. Fields wasn’t even a good reliever. The signing of Fields by Zduriencik was something that a lot of people argued was a vote of confidence by the new guy to the scouting staff. I’m okay with that. A lot of people bemoan the fact that we could have had an extra pick with which to do damage, but considering that Steve Baron was initially intended as a budget pick, I don’t know that the claim that we would have done so much more with another pick is a particularly defensible one.

    Back in the day, the prevailing viewpoint by sports writers and bloggers was: Bavassi was lame at signing free agents and making trades, but he was building a strong farm system. Yikes.

    The international side of things was all right under his watch, but then Lopez got lazy, Betancourt got lazier, and we traded off good pieces like Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-soo Choo for quick fixes that didn’t really fix much of anything. I wouldn’t credit Bavasi for any of those players particularly, but they were around, and misused.

    Is it too early to forecast what the results of the 2008 and 2009 drafts might be? Or at least, what the upside looks like it could possibly be based on the prospects that are still in the system?

    The 2008 draft is depressing. You’re basically pinning your hopes on one of Nate Tenbrink, Steve Hensley, Dennis Raben or Brandon Maurer to be healthy on a regular basis. Raben was moving forward this year, but then he got hurt, again. Hensley has a sad arm. Tenbrink has been not-quite-right since the concussion. I love Maurer and his 99th percentile is as a #2 starter, but he’s had various arm issues and his risk is as high as you’re likely to see without dropping off a prospect list entirely. Some people like Jake Shaffer, but I still see him as a 4th outfielder.

    The 2009 draft is just hot. We had Ackley get us a 2.7 WAR in 90 games last season and Seager added 0.5 in 53. Even with Vasquez sucking it up to the tune of -1.1 WAR, that’s still pretty awesome, and guys like Nick Franklin and Vinnie Catricala were also picked that year along with marginal figures such as Andrew Carraway, Jimmy Gillheeney, and Brian Moran. That draft meant some good things for us.

    To put these drafts into perspective, how much WAR value, total and retained, would you have expected a competently run team to produce in those five years? How well did the best run teams do? I have no idea just how bad this is, even though it sounds pretty lousy.

    The gist is that things were awful and I think that’s the extent of what needs knowing. I posted this link last year which approximated values for first through third round picks by grouping (pitcher/hitter, college/prep) in terms of WAR, which gets to the same basic point of “We sucked and things were terrible.”

  22. MrZDevotee on February 13th, 2012 8:23 pm

    Johnny/Eponymous-
    Good points, but I wasn’t saying this trade was akin to the Randy Johnson trade, I was just using that trade as an example of how little we sometimes know about how good a trade is at the “present” time of when it happened. That was the only correlation to me– it sticks in my mind as a trade that made the fans angry, but at a later date, pretty satisfied.

  23. ivan on February 13th, 2012 8:30 pm

    “Garcia and Guillen were if memory serves the top 2 prospects in the Astros’ organization at the time.”

    Lance Berkman says hello.

  24. The Ancient Mariner on February 14th, 2012 9:39 am

    Actually, Richard Hidalgo says hello — Berkman was #4 that year on BA’s list (Scott Elarton and Wade Miller were #2 and #3). BA had Chief, Carlos and Halama #6, #7, and #8, respectively.

    MT, Fields (not Fielder) would have had to re-enter the draft based primarily on his refusal to sign with the FO that drafted him. It wouldn’t have been a unilateral action on the M’s part, but a predictable consequence of his own behavior.

  25. Johnny Slick on February 14th, 2012 10:14 am

    Yep, at some point in that long post I thought you were Dave for some reason… sorry, Jay! As for the Randy Johnson trade, I stand corrected on that as well. I thought Chief and Guillen were rated a lot higher than that.

  26. seattlesonsofbaseball on February 14th, 2012 11:01 am

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdVslsaOZCQ&feature=player_embedded

    2012 M’s video I made to tribute our boys, hope for a season of vast improvements, as well as a tribute end to Greg Halman.

  27. joser on February 14th, 2012 2:13 pm

    Jay, do you know if anybody has done this kind of analysis for other teams (or, ideally, for all of them)? I realize doing this for just one team was a lot of work (and thanks for that!) but this is such an illuminating way to look back at drafts that I hope others are pursuing it.

    I’d really like to see which teams over the past decade have made the best draft picks overall, and which teams have received the most present value (since draft picks don’t always remain with the team that picked them). Of course even over ten years there’s a lot of random chance involved, and obviously many teams have had front office / scouting regime changes over that time, but it still would be an interesting comparison — especially as a context for evaluating the M’s.

  28. Jay Yencich on February 14th, 2012 7:48 pm

    Jay, do you know if anybody has done this kind of analysis for other teams (or, ideally, for all of them)? I realize doing this for just one team was a lot of work (and thanks for that!) but this is such an illuminating way to look back at drafts that I hope others are pursuing it.

    I don’t know off-hand of anyone doing that. Which isn’t to say it isn’t being done (it could very well be happening) as much as I wouldn’t know, seeing as how the bulk of my attention is being devoted to the Mariners minor league system, with some peripheral awareness of other AL West teams. A quick and dirty way of doing it would be to go to Baseball-Reference, then look up the Franchise draft picks for each year and organize by WAR. That actually might be an article in the making. Don’t anyone go do that; I think I’ve thought of a way to feign productivity.

  29. Jay Yencich on February 14th, 2012 11:28 pm

    This is a lot of work.

  30. Adam S on February 14th, 2012 11:39 pm

    Thanks for doing this. Truly amazing that six years of drafts, counting 2008, produced Jones, Morrow, Fister and a handful of spare parts.

    What happened with Clement. When we drafted him there was some doubt he could stick at catcher but there was no doubt he could hit. (My recollection is same things we’re saying today about Montero.) I was excited about him, disappointed when the gave him away and he can’t even stick with the Pirates.

  31. The Ancient Mariner on February 15th, 2012 8:39 am
  32. everett on February 15th, 2012 8:55 am

    Just saw it this morning, and all I can say is “wow”. That’s just incredibly terrible.

  33. rtkreutzer on February 15th, 2012 9:02 am

    Wow I spent two years working very hard to forget Jeff Clements and all the pain that came with that name. Thanks. At least we traded him for someone good… Wait wasn’t it for Jack Wilson? Is 9:00 AM too early for a drink?

  34. Jay Yencich on February 15th, 2012 9:31 am

    joser, you might look at Jim Breen’s articles: “Building Through the Draft: Worst of the Worst” and “Building Through the Draft: Best of the Best.”

    That renders about three hours of work on my part last night more or less worthless, but since the second of those articles went up this morning, it’s not like I could have easily known. Still, there were things I could have (and should have) been spending time on instead last night. Bummer.

  35. Nate on February 15th, 2012 9:46 am

    Not worthless Jay.
    Now we have multiple sources of research indicating that the mariners draft results last decade have been beyond crap.

    Your posts are never worthless (especially when Dave’s on vacation. keep ‘em coming).

  36. stevemotivateir on February 15th, 2012 9:51 am

    Maybe we could see a post on the history of international scouting/recruiting? There’s got to be some positives somewhere!

  37. Jay Yencich on February 15th, 2012 10:21 am

    Your posts are never worthless (especially when Dave’s on vacation. keep ‘em coming).

    What I’m looking at is slightly different and I have various curiosities I make mention of. Post ahoy!

  38. Johnny Slick on February 15th, 2012 10:49 am

    Yeah, not only the worst, but 2 wins worse than the next-worst team (the Chisox) and barely half the WAR of the 3rd worst (the Indians). Thanks, Bavasi! THANK YOU SO, SO MUCH!!!!

    If this team was in the 50th percentile and they got 20% of that extra performance from the farm this coming year (which isn’t out of the question, as the bulk of the guys from the 2004-8 years are just now reaching their peak), that would peg this team at right around 80 wins.

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