Game 101, Royals at Mariners

marc w · July 26, 2012 at 4:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Jason Vargas vs. Luis Mendoza, 7:10pm

Ballplayers have an array of well-worn cliches to deploy whenever they’re asked about trade rumors: “Focus on the game” “Can’t worry about that stuff” “I’m committed to this team/the guys in this clubhouse.” I think it must be true at some level that they need to compartmentalize things, and really concentrate on the game, but it has to creep into their minds during warm-ups or on off-days. Jason Vargas has to know that he’s on the trading block, and watching Ichiro high-fiving his new teammates must have been quite a sight. The M’s aren’t going anywhere. Ichiro’d had a sub-par season, and he’s virtually guaranteed to play in the postseason. Jack Wilson – Jack Wilson – nearly made the postseason last year.
There will be quite a few teams looking closely at Vargas’ start tonight. Teams that lose out on Greinke/Shields/Dempster will be interested, and with Vargas approaching his last arb year (and a large-ish increase in salary), the M’s will listen to offers. This isn’t news, and Vargas has been in a similar position last year, when some thought the M’s would trade him instead of Doug Fister. But it’s got to be weird that while, say, Felix and Dustin Ackley absolutely know that they’re headed for another last place finish, Vargas might be in a pennant chase next month. I don’t want to ignore the disruption that players have to deal with when they’re traded to a team across the country, but….last place finish versus pennant race.

Luis Mendoza’s a sinkerballing right-hander who kicked around in the minors for years, getting an occasional game or two in the majors and then heading back to AA/AAA. He’s always had good velocity and generated a good number of grounders, but poor control and the lack of a putaway pitch seemed to relegate him to the role of minor league veteran. Then in 2011, something clicked. He wasn’t striking out more, and his walk rate actually increased, but limiting his HRs led to a sparkly ERA and got him a shot with the Royals. He’s had an up and down season this year, but he’s now made 14 starts and seems to be settling in as a FIP-defying back of the rotation pitcher.

He’s given up 40 free passes (10.6%) to only 54 strikeouts (14.3%). He’s struggled to keep breaking balls/change-ups in the zone, and they haven’t gotten too many whiffs when he has. He’s a pitcher who gets ground balls and has essentially no other skills. 14 starts and a handful of relief appearances aren’t much to go on, and it’s not like he’s throwing a bunch of shut-outs, but this doesn’t look like a pitcher who should have a FIP of 4. Depending on your point of view, Mendoza is either 1) an extremely lucky pitcher whose GB and HR rates are bound to regress, 2) an object lesson in why ground ball pitchers are worth keeping around, or 3) more evidence that DIPS theory may be flawed/incomplete. If we can’t have interesting baseball in July, we can at least have philosophical baseball.

The line-up:
1: Ackley
2: Saunders
3: Wells (LF)
4: Jaso (DH)
5: Seager
6: Carp
7: Olivo (C)
8: Peguero (RF)
9: Ryan
SP: Vargas

Go M’s!


80 Responses to “Game 101, Royals at Mariners”

  1. Rick L on July 26th, 2012 9:32 pm

    I wouldn’t trade Vargas unless we got a proven major league hitter in return.

  2. Westside guy on July 26th, 2012 9:33 pm

    Crap baserunning AGAIN.

  3. WTF_Ms on July 26th, 2012 9:33 pm

    Wow…AAbaserunning there.

  4. msfanmike on July 26th, 2012 9:34 pm

    Boy, did that play describe “The Mariners” to a tee – or what.

    Embarrassing numb nuts. That freaking contact play leads to way more bad than good.

  5. r-gordon-7 on July 26th, 2012 9:35 pm

    “I wouldn’t trade Vargas unless we got a proven major league hitter in return.”

    When was the last time the M’s actually got a proven major league hitter (at least one who actually continued to hit) in return for anyone?

  6. stevemotivateir on July 26th, 2012 9:36 pm

    That’s just it…. Vargas is further down the list of desirable starters, so he’d likely net much less. I doubt we could get a proven major league hitter for him. Maybe a ‘B’ prospect, plus junk. If that’s the case, I’d rather him stick around. We’ll find out shortly.

  7. Rick L on July 26th, 2012 9:39 pm

    But I wouldn’t trade Wilhelmson.

  8. crazyray7391 on July 26th, 2012 9:40 pm

    I think I agree with Steve. Vargas is worth more than a B prospect and junk to this team. Especially getting to play half his games at Safeco. I don’t have a problem trying to improve the team OR dump salary if that’s what needed. I’m just not sure how moving Vargas would really acomplish either of those unless you are sure that Hultzen/Paxton/Walker will be ready to go next year.

  9. crazyray7391 on July 26th, 2012 9:42 pm

    I know it’s an understatement…..but Wilhelmson sure is GOOD right now!

  10. tmac9311 on July 26th, 2012 9:43 pm

    Would anyone claim Peguero if we removed him from the 40 man? Not that Mike Wilson or Darren Ford are huge improvements, but it seems pretty obvious Carlos doesnt have much to offer. I guess cutting Olivo or Figgins could cure that problem without risking a young guy.

  11. msfanmike on July 26th, 2012 9:43 pm

    Good to win. Faces a crap team. Gave away 3 outs on the bases – and still won. Not a very “clean” game by any stretch, but Ackley reached 4 times and Carp got 3 hits, so …….. So ….. Yeah, I don’t know, either.

    Better than a loss.

  12. crazyray7391 on July 26th, 2012 9:46 pm

    Mike, at this point I think we just take whatever we can get with this team at home.

  13. stevemotivateir on July 26th, 2012 9:49 pm

    Wilhelmson will surely be talked about, too. With Pryor and Capps coming up, the M’s could probably afford to deal him. But again, is it worth it, if the return is minimal?

  14. taylor.mariner on July 26th, 2012 9:53 pm

    I would trade League with Vargas. I’ll throw Dave Sims in too. He reminds me of the “it’s a trap” guy from Star Wars without a hat on.

  15. crazyray7391 on July 26th, 2012 9:53 pm

    It may have been on Fangraphs, but I read a response Dave had to the Wilhelmson question and if I remember right his response was that we should either hold on to him and let him rack up a bunch of saves between now and next years deadline and sell high, or maybe even see if you could turn him in to a starter next year.

  16. stevemotivateir on July 26th, 2012 9:53 pm

    I think someone would absolutely claim Peguero if he were released. It wouldn’t cost them anything to try to teach him plate discipline. Well, other than patience, and the hair they would likely pull from their own heads.

  17. crazyray7391 on July 26th, 2012 9:54 pm

    Now I want to hear Sims yell out “IT’S A TRAP!”

  18. taylor.mariner on July 26th, 2012 9:57 pm

    His eyes are set on the outside of his head like that guy, Ackbar is his name if I’m not mistaken.

  19. crazyray7391 on July 26th, 2012 9:59 pm

    I’m picturing Sims saying that as one of the M’s make a horrendous baserunning mistake.

  20. Jordan on July 26th, 2012 10:10 pm

    Anyone remember when the game threads were actually game threads? Not complaining, I just think it’s funny that the Mariners are so bad we focus on Sims.

    Tomorrows headline reads 12 player trade between the Royal Mariners. Don’t do it, it’s a trap!

  21. justdave on July 26th, 2012 10:11 pm

    My “buy low, sell high” side says trade Vargas. But my sentimental side says keep him. He reminds me of Moyer in his heyday, and it’s depressing to think what the rotation after Felix would look like without him.

  22. henryv on July 26th, 2012 10:22 pm

    Would really like to get a quality power hitting outfield prospect with a 2014 arrival date for Vargas, and could throw in League/Figgins and a bunch of cash.

    I really don’t believe Vargas is much more than a 2 win player, who is going to cost more than he is worth.

  23. Westside guy on July 26th, 2012 10:35 pm

    Anyone remember when the game threads were actually game threads?

    Sure, but there has to be some honest-to-goodness game action happening before we can comment on it! With the M’s getting two or three hits total many nights, there’s not a lot of “game” to talk about…

  24. The_Waco_Kid on July 26th, 2012 11:28 pm

    This could be a sell high time for Vargas or Wilhelmson. I’d trade Vargas, but I’m skeptical we’d get very little for him. I’d keep Wilhelmson, but I’m hopeful we’d actually get a great return if we traded him.

  25. vetted_coach on July 27th, 2012 3:42 am

    Post script:

    When the Mariners trade Vargas, they better get a legit big league player who can step in now. Of course, we know that won’t happen.

    But if Z isn’t able to make that transition – given the current situation – then he is a waste of time.

    The “current situation” is that they have dedicated several years to prospects, none of whom have yet to establish much. I know, big-picture and all that crap, but it’s time to give the fans and the players something else.

    A relevant GM does it all, not just the same old, same old. Since Z has been here, what has changed? Sorry, but almost anyone can ferret out prospects and draft picks.

  26. eponymous coward on July 27th, 2012 7:48 am

    When the Mariners trade Vargas, they better get a legit big league player who can step in now. Of course, we know that won’t happen.

    Why is a pennant contender going to rob Peter to pay Paul when it comes to making a trade for a decent if not world-beating starting pitcher like Vargas? “Hi, we’ll cripple our lineup during our stretch run so we can bolster our rotation!”

    This is a completely unrealistic expectation, I think. Fister fetched us Wells + Furbush + minor leaguer. Vargas isn’t as valuable as Fister (Fister’s a better pitcher and was under contract at reduced cost for longer- he’s not even arb-eligible this year).

    If Vargas goes, it’s basically going to be a salary dump for B-level prospects unless you find a sucker, and then GMZ will try to end up with Kevin Millwood instead of Garrett Olson when it’s time to fill out the rotation with cheap back-end starters on Large Item Pickup Day.

    Finally… Millwood’s making $1 million this year. Arguably he has more value than Vargas, since even if your budget is kind of tight you should be able to pick him up, and he might not be as expensive to resign as Vargas would get through arbitration. If GMZ deals them both like he dealt Fister and Bedard last year, I would imagine the last couple of months of Mariner baseball should be suitably unwatchable, since the rotation will be Felix, Iwakuma, and a bunch of prospects and suspects.

  27. MissouriMariner on July 27th, 2012 8:48 am

    I just have a gut feeling the rest of this year will be unwatchable…I wish we had some decent guys to trade that could bring good value, but we don’t. I guess we will be playing for another high draft pick next year. Hopefully some of our offensive prospects will start to come around.

    I am really wondering what it is about the organization that is hindering the development of our offensive prospects. It just seems we can’t put out a good hitting prospect or we give up on them too soon. Just my concerns/wonderings on a hot and humid day in MO.

  28. stevemotivateir on July 27th, 2012 9:30 am

    I actually look forward to seeing guys like Hultzen and Carraway pitch. Hard to be further disappointed when the offense regularly fails to produce anyway.

  29. vetted_coach on July 27th, 2012 9:49 am

    Anonymous: Then don’t trade him. There’s no rule against keeping decent pitchers. If all your franchise wants to do is minimize costs and live off everyone else’s mediocre prospects, that’s exactly the problem.

    No one’s looking for Hunter Pence in a trade, but there are certainly solid, younger bench players who can outhit what the M’s throw out there.. The Mariners have the leverage. They don’t have to settle for someone else’s gamble all the time.

    That’s what happened to the KC A’s – they were the Yankee’s wuss for ten years.

  30. eponymous coward on July 27th, 2012 12:29 pm

    Then don’t trade him. There’s no rule against keeping decent pitchers. If all your franchise wants to do is minimize costs and live off everyone else’s mediocre prospects, that’s exactly the problem.

    Notice that I said “if”. But we don’t have a lot of insight into what ownership has told the front office what they’ll have to work with in salary in 2013. If the dictate from on high is “you’ll get less and you’ll like it”, then Vargas and Millwood will be farmed out for what they can get in organizational depth, which this team still needs.

    M’s attendance is pretty much flat so far, in a league where on average it is up slightly (so we’re well on our way to being Oakland North), so you can figure that it’s going to be hard for the M’s to spend MORE in 2013 than what they spent in 2012… but staying at or close to current salary levels should be doable, I guess (assuming they’re not taking a loss in 2012 or attendance crashes the rest of the year, something I guess could happen if there’s another last season crash once we trade the reasonably priced veterans and replace them with this year’s Anthony Vasquez). The thing is that the FA market for OF/1B (biggest position of need on this roster) is lousy, so if the M’s clear off 10 million of salary space… what do they spend it on? It’s just not that clear what’s out there on the FA market that’s compelling (yeah, there’s trades for guys like Upton, maybe, but Upton isn’t going to come cheap). So maybe they don’t trade 4 WAR out of the pitching staff, and thus don’t turn the 2012 team into an unwatchable mess and tank the rest of the season, and don’t start out the 2012-2013 offseason with a rotation of Felix, and a bunch of ???…

    That’s what happened to the KC A’s – they were the Yankee’s wuss for ten years.

    The relationship between KC and NY was a bit more complicated than what is going on with the M’s: the Yankee and A’s owners were friends, and Dan Topping was the reason Arnold Johnson became a MLB owner.

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