The Problem With Trades

Dave · October 31, 2012 at 11:14 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

After I released my offseason plan post, one of the most common questions I got was why it relied so heavily on free agency, rather than using the team’s stock of minor league talent to swing a trade instead. I actually got asked that question in my chat over at FanGraphs again today, and so I figured it’s probably time that I actually explain why I don’t see making a trade as the realistic solution that a lot of people seem to be rooting for.

Let’s start with the primary reason – to get something, you have to give something up. The Mariners don’t have a ton of Major League talent, which is why they keep having losing seasons. The goal is to add Major League talent, not move it around. Besides Jesus Montero — who I’m pretty sure the organization is higher on than I am, and almost certainly not going anywhere — there really aren’t too many pieces on the big league roster that you could feasibly trade in a deal that gets you a legitimate improvement.

Trading Kyle Seager doesn’t help you do anything, because the organization has a giant black hole at third base, and it’s a barren wasteland in free agency, so you’d just be creating one hole to fill another. Selling low on Dustin Ackley doesn’t make any sense. Justin Smoak has basically nuked his trade value. It says something that the team’s best MLB non-Felix trade chip is probably Tom Wilhelmsen. I like Wilhelmsen and all, but you’re not turning him into any kind of impact bat.

So, if the M’s are going to make a significant improvement via trade this winter, they’re going to have to build the package around prospects. And they do have some good prospects, with most of the speculation centering around Nick Franklin and James Paxton, both of whom are easily Top 100 prospects and could be considered Top 50 guys, depending on who you talk to. They do have real trade value, because they’re talented kids who aren’t that far from the big leagues.

But, they’re not elite prospects, and neither one is likely going to be able to make a Major League club out of spring training. So, if you’re building a package of talent around Paxton and Franklin, you’re essentially limited to dealing with teams who are looking to move present talent for future talent. And that eliminates pretty much every popular trade target from the shopping list.

Alex Gordon? There’s no real reason for the Royals to move him for prospects. They’ve spent years getting a core of players to the big leagues, and resetting the clock by a year or two while they wait for two more prospects to get back to the big leagues is counterproductive. They’re trying to do the same thing the Mariners are doing this winter – use their perceived excess of young talent to add wins to their big league roster. There’s a reason they just traded for Ervin Santana. They’re trying to make their 2013 team better, not worse.

Allan Craig? St. Louis isn’t trading away their starting first baseman, especially not for minor leaguers. They’re in full on win-now mode. Paxton and Franklin would be of marginal interest to a contender.

Justin Upton? Arizona just took their step backwards, and they now want to step back into the NL West race. Even in trading away Chris Young, they made sure they got back two Major League players in the deal, filling a hole at shortstop and hoping for a bounce back from Heath Bell to strengthen their bullpen. If they trade Upton, it will be as part of a deal for an established big league player at another position, probably SP or 3B. In other words, you want to talk Upton, they’ll want to talk Felix or Seager+. And Jack will hang up the phone. Beyond some kind of three way trade, I just don’t see Arizona being a good trade partner for the M’s.

I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer here, but there’s just no reason to think that the teams that have these good young cost controlled hitters are going to want to trade them for Paxton and Franklin, no matter how many extra things you throw in. If you’re selling prospects, you’re limited to teams that aren’t trying to win any time soon, and thanks to the second wild card and the surprising success of teams like the Orioles, that’s now a pretty short list.

Realistically, here are the clubs that I’d say you can expect to be moving present talent for future talent this winter.

Houston Astros
Chicago Cubs
Cleveland Indians
Minnesota Twins
Colorado Rockies

All of those teams lost at least 94 games last year, and they’re all in some sort of transition process. The Astros and Cubs are in full scale rebuilding mode, and they don’t have a lot of interesting assets to sell to begin with. The Indians, Twins, and Rockies aren’t necessarily planning to sell off everything with a pulse, but they’re all far enough away from contention that they’d probably be interested in moving one of their players with only a few years of club control (or less) for a couple of good prospects. These five, I can see Paxton and Franklin generating a return phone call.

But, realistically, what are you targeting here? Getting the Cubs to kick in enough of Alfonso Soriano‘s contract to make him interesting? One year of Shin-Soo Choo before Scott Boras takes him to free agency? Dexter Fowler‘s massive home/road splits, average power, and contact problems? Josh Willingham, who turns 34 in February and is coming off a career year?

This is probably what you’re looking at if you’re selling Paxton and Franklin as the centerpieces of a deal. The teams who seem likely to be interested in acquiring that kind of package don’t really have what everyone wants the Mariners to get. Sure, Willingham makes the offense better, but do you really want to give up two of the better young talents in the organization to get a guy who is at the tail end of his career, and certainly isn’t any kind of long term building piece? Or, to get a guy like Choo who is going to test the market next winter, and has an agent who doesn’t know what “home town discount” means?

I don’t. None of those guys are really the kind of player I think the Mariners should be overly interested in. Willingham and Choo should end up on a team like the Rangers or Braves – contenders who can justify giving up significant future value to help get them in the playoffs next year. The Mariners just aren’t there yet, so if they’re trading from the farm, they need to look young. And the teams with those younger bats just aren’t going to want to trade them for a package of prospects.

Beyond that, the entire idea that the Mariners have this excess pitching depth is essentially a myth. Right now, the organization has one great pitcher, one pretty interesting young Major Leaguer, one back-end starter whose salaries are making him a marginal value, and a bunch of guys who might not even be ready to get PCL hitters out on a regular basis. Yes, the Hultzen/Walker/Paxton trio each have talent, but they also each have significant strides that need to be made before they are big league ready, and of course there’s the ever present injury risk hanging over every pitcher that we simply can’t ignore.

The reality is that the Mariners will probably only get one good big league starter out of that group. If they get two, that’s a huge win. Three would be a miracle, and no one should build a plan around a miracle. Pitching prospects are extremely fickle, and even with three guys as talented as the ones the Mariners have — and heck, throw in Brandon Maurer too — there’s just a strong likelihood that the team is going to end up with a couple of busts out of the bunch, whether due to injury or just a lack of development. The minors are littered with guys who had good arms, good strikeout rates, and then just stopped pitching well.

You add two MLB starters to Felix and Erasmo Ramirez at some point in 2014, and you’re still a starter shy of a full rotation. Hopefully Iwakmua is that guy, but even if he re-signs, you basically need two of those arms to pan out just so you’re not left a starter short.

The Mariners don’t really have a pitching surplus. Despite all the talk about this team just needing offense, they also need better starting pitching. They don’t have so many good starters that they’re holding MLB ready players down in Triple-A past the point where their development warrants it. Trading one of them away simply means that the team is even more likely to have to go spend on pitching, either this winter or next, and so it’s back to robbing Peter to pay Paul. This is a team that had to rely on Kevin Millwood and Blake Beavan for most of the year. This is not a team that has extra pitching to spare.

They do have an extra second baseman, since no one seems to think Franklin has much of a future at shortstop, so I don’t expect him to still be a Mariner when spring training starts. And it is possible that Jack figures out a three way deal to build a trade around Franklin and one of the pitchers that gets them a hitter from a team outside of the obvious rebuilding organizations. And, of course, there could be a guy who is available that no one is talking about, much like how no one knew Cliff Lee was available until the Phillies landed Roy Halladay.

But, from just looking at the landscape of the league, there just don’t seem to be many obvious fits for this kind of Paxton/Franklin/stuff for a young hitter trade that seems to be such a popular idea at the moment. If the Mariners could turn those guys into a 25-30 year old thumper, they’d probably have done it already. There just aren’t that many young hitters in baseball who are available, and there definitely aren’t that many who are on teams that would want to trade them for prospects.

The new playoff structure incentivizes teams to try and become decent, rather than simply aiming to be above 90 or below 70 wins. Now, 80-85 makes you a contender, or at least lets you play meaningful games in September. The reason the Mariners are trying to get better is the same reason why the teams with the players you covet are also trying to get better, and the players you covet probably can’t be had for the players you want to part with.

If the M’s were trading Felix, then these guys would be in play. But they’re not trading Felix, so dreaming of the best young Major League hitters with team friendly contracts is probably unrealistic. Young Major Leaguers have a lot of value – a lot more than prospects who need to start the year in Triple-A. So, I’d rather see the Mariners keep their Triple-A guys around, turn them into Major League players, and then move the excess — if there still is excess — to help fill the needs of the roster.

They can get better this winter through free agency, because the crop of outfielders on the market is actually quite strong. They don’t have any pieces who simply belong in the big leagues and don’t have a spot to play because of an overcrowded roster. There shouldn’t be any pressure to make a trade just because that’s theoretically a better way to build a roster. This winter, you can probably get better prices on free agent outfielders than you can via trade. Next year might be different. But right now, I just don’t see Paxton/Franklin/stuff getting the Mariners the hitter they desire, nor do I think they should just settle and trade them for a guy like Willingham if he’s the best they can do via trade.

Comments

54 Responses to “The Problem With Trades”

  1. sexymarinersfan on October 31st, 2012 11:35 pm

    Ok, I’ll buy what your selling for the most part. But tell me this this. What happens when Wil Myers and Bubba Starling are ready to play in the majors? I don’t think they’re going to platoon Myers and Gordon in LF and share duties. There are also teams in win now mode, such as the Angels who are dumping players with bad contracts, or other teams who have a plethora of youth coming up through minors blocked by someone down on the farm. Now there may not be very many, but I don’t think the trade market is as thin as you make it out to be. It’s like you said, there could be that hidden Cliff Lee type of player that we don’t see. Just my two cents. Overall I agree with the majority of what you said. Lets develop these kids, build they’re trade value and sign some OF’s and a pitcher or two.

  2. thinkfull on November 1st, 2012 12:07 am

    Could not agree more. If we want a young, cost-controlled team, we need to develop most of it, and snag added value when we see it available. Selling potential value for any available bat is what Bavasi did to get us in this mess in the first place.

  3. PackBob on November 1st, 2012 2:36 am

    I don’t think Jack Z would be too interested in selling the farm after working so hard to rebuild the farm. They’ve got to do something with their excess payroll money and a FA outfielder seems a natural fit. I’d just as soon see Paxton stay in the pool of pitchers that might develop. Can’t have too big a pool there.

  4. The_Waco_Kid on November 1st, 2012 2:57 am

    Great post, Dave. Particularly your thoughts on the Royals, frequently cited as a potential trading partner.

    But how about Denard Span? He’s on your short list of rebuilding teams. I have no idea who we’d have to trade, and it’s not my money so I’d rather we sign Swisher, but Span seems like a good option for a leadoff hitter, with a good glove.

  5. ndevale on November 1st, 2012 3:13 am

    I whole-heartedly agree. And the impression that this years free-agent market is week, which seems strangely wide-spread, may help keep costs down. I have to say that I think this is the winter for the Mariners to significantly raise payroll, perhaps as high as 100 million. I think they could sign as many as 3 bats that way, much as your plan indicates, along with a SP and a scrub catcher.

  6. maqman on November 1st, 2012 3:20 am

    I like Span too. He put up 3.9 fWAR this year, (the same as Swisher) is signed for the next two seasons at $6-7MM per season and is 28 years old. The Twins can spare him and won’t expect to get Felix for him.

  7. Thirteen on November 1st, 2012 3:25 am

    SexyMarinersFan, the Royals can’t be thinking about that now. No one’s blocking Myers next year given that Francoeur is still on the roster; the corner outfield job is functionally his at the beginning of next year as long as he’s still in their system. Starling is a great prospect, but he’s still a long ways off. Just as the Mariners shouldn’t trade Erasmo because Walker might be up in to years, the Royals aren’t going to move Myers just because they have Starling too.

    Dave, as for teams who will sell current talent for future talent, I still think the Royals are borderline… I don’t know how to read the Santana move, but while they’re in a similar position to the Mariners in terms of major league talent their high minors are much weaker and they can’t be hoping for much quick internal improvement beyond Myers. We’ll see how that plays out.

    Seeing as the Marlins just this past season dumped Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, and Hanley Ramirez for prospects, I’d say they’re in the camp of teams who will move present talent for future talent, too. Obviously Stanton is going nowhere, but might Buehrle, Bonifacio and Morrison be on the move? Maybe the Mariners could swing a three-way trade: prospects to Miami, Buehrle+LoMo to KC, OF bats to Seattle? Ah, it’s all just speculation.

    If you think Franklin’s going to move, who the heck is he moving for?

    What about lesser values on contending teams? What might it take, for example, to nab Brandon Belt, who the Mariners showed interest in at midseason and who fits their need for a 1B/OF, but who doesn’t seem very highly valued by his own organization?

  8. eponymous coward on November 1st, 2012 4:26 am

    They’ve got to do something with their excess payroll money

    I’m not sure they have any. I won’t be surprised if by the end of Spring Training, all our FA adds are bit players and payroll is down another 10 million.

  9. eman on November 1st, 2012 5:20 am

    How sure are we that Franklin won’t be able to be a passable SS in the majors? Are the people saying that he needs to move to second, the same people who said that Ackley needed to move back to the outfield?

  10. Rick L on November 1st, 2012 5:57 am

    The Royals need pitching. We need hitting. I would see if they would be interested in a trade of Butler for Ramirez (or Vargas) and Smoak. Or Gordon for Ramirez and Carp.

  11. wsm on November 1st, 2012 5:57 am

    I think you can add the Padres to that list of teams willing to trade for prospects. Depends on what the new ownership is thinking, but they have holes in the organization that Seattle can help with.

    A trade of Chase Headley and maybe Edinson Volquez for a package with Seager and Franklin and maybe Maurer would benefit both clubs. It’d look a lot like the Latos deal last offseason.

  12. Mariners35 on November 1st, 2012 6:01 am

    Epic and thorough reply, Dave. This is pretty well-reasoned in pointing out the limitations of the major league roster and minor league depth.

    It’s also compelling here that the argument was made entirely without any stats or scouting inf. Your argument just flows from some simple assertions about the relative values of various players that anyone could agree on, backed up by whatever ways make the most sense.

    To really counter-argue or pick apart what’s in here for player valuation, one would have to spell out stats/scouting reasons why any one of the M’s pieces are more valuable than stated here. Or give deep contractual / first-hand-player-knowledge reasons against some of the other ones (e.g. have a good counter-argument why a Boras client like Choo wouldn’t behave just as described). Or, as you alluded to, have confident knowledge of players that are available that no one else knows about.

    I do quibble about one of your bits at the end…

    The new playoff structure incentivizes teams to try and become decent, rather than simply aiming to be above 90 or below 70 wins. Now, 80-85 makes you a contender, or at least lets you play meaningful games in September.

    The Tigers snuck in with an 88-win team from a weak division. The Cards were the only ones to benefit from the playoff structure, and they snuck in at 88 also. But everyone else needed to aim for the low 90s as usual to make it. Heck, TB was at 90 games and the Angels at 89 and they just missed the wild card in the AL. I think “above 90″ is still the gold standard for a good shot at a meaningful September and beyond. Aiming for above 90 lets you overcome individual slumps and injuries and still be in striking range. You can’t build for 80-85 on paper and hope for an A’s or O’s type run, not when it just takes a couple injuries and a couple bad years from people to turn that into… well, Seattle-Toronto-Royals territory in the low 70s.

    Anyway. Best post from you in a while about the M’s, Dave, and that includes the offseason plan.

  13. Mariners35 on November 1st, 2012 6:05 am

    eponymous: I won’t be surprised if by the end of Spring Training, all our FA adds are bit players and payroll is down another 10 million.

    You seriously think this front office would take payroll into the low $70m range? Really? What?

    rickl: Did you read Dave’s post at all? Especially the bit about the Royals? Especially the other bit about the M’s not having much value at the ML level? What makes you think Erasmo Ramirez and loose change is worth some of the biggest bats KC has? And why would the M’s trade for Butler when they already have DH set aside for Montero?

  14. stevemotivateir on November 1st, 2012 7:58 am

    I was really glad to see someone point out another flaw with a potential Royals trade. Tired of hearing (over)reactions to a specific article that suggests the Royals are seriously interested in Paxton. The Royals aren’t going to give up Gordon or Butler for Paxton. In fact, I would be shocked if Paxton netted us any solid MLB player straight-across.

  15. katal on November 1st, 2012 8:23 am

    Dave, what type of player could one expect the Mariners to get in return for Nick Franklin, or Nick Franklin + a bullpen or Mauer-type arm?

  16. thurston24 on November 1st, 2012 8:29 am

    This is a well reasoned article but while I agree with the premise that the Mariners shouldn’t trade this year, I disagree with much of the body of the argument.

    Let’s start with Paxton, who isn’t an elite prospect according to you. Paxton is a left handed strike out machine, who Jason Churchill has said could turn out to be the best pitcher of the Hultzen, Walker, Paxton trio. He has had control problems in the past but has appeared to solve them since coming off the DL.

    Nick Franklin is an elite prospect as well. A power hitting second baseman from the left side sounds like a great prospect to me. I know he’s a switch hitter who has problems on the right side but he’s still very young. Franklin has had a couple of struggles but he basically lost a season to mono and a concussion. Also, he may stick at shortstop but it isn’t a sure bet.

    As for the discussion about it will be lucky if two of the Cetebus trio reaches the majors I take heed with as well. It seems like Paxton will be ready very soon by his latest results in AA. It seems almost certain the he will start the season in AAA and could easily move up after five to ten starts. Hultzen will probably have to perform better for longer because he started having real problems but hopefully it was because he was tired. Ultimately, I think it’s a 90% likelihood they both are up by mid season next year.

    So those are my issues, but great write up Dave,I love reading your stuff.

  17. Daniel Carroll on November 1st, 2012 8:39 am

    Dave, what are your thoughts on simply biding time on position players and signing the best pitcher(s) available?

    A strong rotation could limit the need for bullpen arms and give Montero the opportunity to catch more, too.

  18. bat guano on November 1st, 2012 8:58 am

    Well thought out post. I agree with most everything. I’m curious what you think of the Marlins’ offseason plans though, as you did not include them in your five teams “in transition”. It seems like they decided to dump some major league talent when their spending spree didn’t work last year. Might not our prospects be enough to bring in someone like Logan Morrison?

  19. Adam B. on November 1st, 2012 9:17 am

    I have to agree with Dave,

    Unless someone like Josh Willingham emerges late in the hot-stove after the free-agent OF market clears and the major contenders have their respective holes filled, I just don’t see a plausible trade scenario for the M’s.

    Luckily, the tea leaves from the Mariners camp seem to reflect Dave’s opinion.

    Of course the very closed-mouth nature of this front office requires some reading between the lines, but the recent quotes (paraphrased) “We have money to spend for the right guy.” seem to emphasize that this team will be looking much more seriously at free-agency then they have in the recent past.

    I simply don’t see any reason why this team should prefer to give up any of its top five prospects for someone like Willingham, when you could probably acquire someone equivalent in free-agency for much less equivalent cost while retaining your young controllable talent.

    In other words would you rather have Josh Willingham, or Melky Cabrera, Nick Franklin and James Paxton?

  20. Dogham on November 1st, 2012 9:25 am

    How about Chone Figgins and a minor leaguer back to the Angels for Dan Haren and cash? Then we can afford to trade Franklin and either Paxton/Walker to KC for Billy Butler.

  21. _Hutch_ on November 1st, 2012 9:49 am

    MAUER

  22. roosevelt on November 1st, 2012 10:47 am

    Okay. Nothing like beating people so that they can see reality. Now, I’m depressed.

  23. eponymous coward on November 1st, 2012 11:09 am

    You seriously think this front office would take payroll into the low $70m range? Really? What?

    Attendance is down almost 200,000 from last year, and Colorado ($75 million payroll) and Arizona ($65 million) are, similar to the M’s, large metropolitan areas, and have better attendance. So cutting payroll some more wouldn’t be completely unrealistic.

    I can totally see the train of logic from the front office being “hey, Arizona did it in 2011, Oakland did it last year, we could make the playoffs with a cheap team too”. All it takes is being willing to gamble that Smoak, Ackley, Guti and Montero are all going to break out next year, and an unwillingness to lose money.

    A strong rotation could limit the need for bullpen arms and give Montero the opportunity to catch more, too.

    Huh? What on earth does having better starting pitchers have to do with Jesus Montero’s lack of defensive skills at C?

  24. furlong on November 1st, 2012 11:44 am

    I am surprised that nobody here has mentioned the best player available for the least amount of outlay. The “Milkman” of course.

  25. diderot on November 1st, 2012 11:58 am

    I agree with the essence of the argument. I’ve thought from the start that if there wasn’t a way pry away Gordon or Upton, we should just step back from ‘the big trade’.

    But while this was only an aside in the post, I really would look forward to one detailing your pessimism on Montero. I think I saw a lot of improvement as the season went on from a contact and pitch recognition standpoint, disguised by a wretched BABIP in August. He’s 22. I realize he runs like he’s wearing high heels, but I may be the only fan in Seattle who was actually pleased by what he did last year. To me, better than expected.

  26. Longgeorge1 on November 1st, 2012 12:00 pm

    Don’t trade Ramierez – he’ll be the next Fister. Felix, Vargus, Iwakuma, Ramierez and ? Is not bad. Now that he has added a change to his fastball and curve, Wilhelmsen could start and we could turn the pen over to Capps and friends

  27. ck on November 1st, 2012 12:24 pm

    Amen to Dave. The M’s have traded prospects in the past, and we see Asdrubal Cabrera, Adam Jones, et al in All-Star games, while the pieces the M’s received in return are usually long retired. I hope Jack Z. doesn’t have any pressure to, ‘save his job,’ and do stupid Bavasi-like moves this winter.

  28. sexymarinersfan on November 1st, 2012 12:25 pm

    I hear Mike Morse might be available. Plays OF/1B. Not a bad option in my opinion. Any takers?!

  29. Westside guy on November 1st, 2012 12:31 pm

    Trade talk is always fun. Commenters on this site are better than most; but, where ever you go, there are always people that will argue “why don’t we trade mediocre/crap players A and B to team C and they’ll send back good player D?”

    Smoak, for example, is not bringing anything of value back – a “Smoak + Player B” trade is going to have pretty much the same return as just trading Player B straight up right now. Adding Figgins to a trade will almost certainly lower the return – not exactly helpful.

    I think Dave’s right, assuming the team is actually looking to improve significantly in 2013. The team’s going to have to spend significant extra money if they want to be much better next year than they were this year.

  30. bookbook on November 1st, 2012 1:02 pm

    Franklin might be passable at SS, but (1) folks who watch him aren’t enthused and (2) those same folks are much higher on the defensive potential of Miller, less than a year behind him.

    I do think there is some trade upgrade potential, but relatively little potential to get what would excite me. I’m more excited to see if Franklin/Romero/Miller can fill out the bottom half of a line up than to trade for Seth Smith or someone to do that. OTOH turning Franklin into an equally valuable OF prospect would be a good reshaping of the M’s talent base.

  31. Badbadger on November 1st, 2012 2:09 pm

    I’d rather lose a draft pick than a package of guys who have already had success in the minors.

  32. Mariners2620 on November 1st, 2012 2:38 pm

    I am not arguing your well thought out post here Dave. Not at all. I am just concerned by all of the “wait for the prospects to flourish for us” comments. We haven’t had a prospect that joined the mariners big league club, and smacked the ball around the field pretty well for an entire season. Clement was a bust, who knows how well Adam Jones would have performed as a regular in safeco. We have had a lot of guys who put up solid numbers in the minors and that fell apart once making it to the big show. A lot of players do in fact have sophomore slumps, which you can attribute to Ackleys woes. However Smoak, albeit he didn’t originate from within our organization, hasn’t exactly impressed anyone. I am aware of the fences being brought in. Hopefully that has a positive influence on their confidence, like so many players have alluded to. I think Dave’s original plan could work well, however, could Cody Ross be a solid pick up?

  33. bookbook on November 1st, 2012 4:30 pm

    I, for one, believe that Adam Jones, Cabrera, and Choo would have done just fine for us. I think Seager and now Saunders might have, too. But yeah, certainty is nowhere near the confidence level we should have in any prospect.

  34. stevemotivateir on November 1st, 2012 5:45 pm

    Greg Johns stated today that the team intends to increase payroll from last year. I wouldn’t carve that in stone as a certainty, but it’s probably worth a few lottery tickets that time will prove him right. Of course that doesn’t mean they’ll waste money, or that we’ll see a Bavasi-like spending spree.

  35. lailaihei on November 1st, 2012 6:35 pm

    Speaking of Chris Young, I thought he should be a target for the Mariners in trade. What do you think of him as a player?

    He obviously was in the doghouse with the Arizona org, but he’s proven to be a capable player with good upside. I thought he would be a great trade target for the M’s, a solid improvement without having to give up a lot.

  36. Kazinski on November 1st, 2012 7:59 pm

    If Franklin isn’t likely to be an everyday SS, why not have him fill the Kawasaki/Figgins role on the bench? He’s got some pop in his bat and he has the glove to be a backup at SS If Ackley doesn’t come around you can plug him in there then then let Ackley be the OF/IF/1b backup.

  37. sexymarinersfan on November 1st, 2012 8:25 pm

    Because you don’t sit a player like Franklin on the bench. You want him playing everyday and developing until he’s ready for the call, if there’s a spot for him. By sitting on the bench here and there your not allowing your youngster to see live pitching everyday. Your theory would be sound for Spring Training. Lets wait and see what happens.

  38. G-Man on November 1st, 2012 9:37 pm

    “The reality is that the Mariners will probably only get one good big league starter out of that group.”

    Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes.

    I’m not sure what we could get for Franklin right now, but if it doesn’t amount to much (which I suspect), we’d just as well keep him until he can get some time in with the big league club and increase his value, maybe in August/September of 2013. Moving Ackley to 1B or OF is possible, too.

  39. sexymarinersfan on November 1st, 2012 10:55 pm

    It’s nice to know that Ackley can play 1B in a pinch. It’s also nice to know that Franklin is a potential backup to SS/2B as well. Insurance for Smoak and Dustin. Obviously you don’t want you’re potential 2B Gold Glove man playing regularly at first, but it’s an option none the less. Nick has trouble hitting from the right side and Justin is a better from the right side hitter. You don’t want to platoon them but if you bring up Nick half way in the year he might be able to find some playing time if our other youngsters begin to struggle.

  40. stevemotivateir on November 2nd, 2012 5:57 am

    Well, we should be free & clear to negotiate with all FA’s now. This is kind of like the USS Mariner Christmas, last night being the ‘eve’. Hopefully Santa-Jack has more than a bag of coal for us.

  41. henryv on November 2nd, 2012 7:20 am

    And it is possible that Jack figures out a three way deal to build a trade around Franklin and one of the pitchers that gets them a hitter from a team outside of the obvious rebuilding organizations.

    Joey Votto… “So you’re saying there’s a chance!”

    Listen, Dave, if you’re going to continue to provide thoughtful insight into the M’s organization rather than knee-jerk mantra statements about what the M’s “have to do”, we’re just going to have to go read Geoff Baker in order to get our knee-jerk stupidity.

    And no one wants that.

    And by that I mean, great piece Dave. Thanks!

  42. henryv on November 2nd, 2012 7:26 am

    Damnit. Did my tags wrong.

  43. The Ancient Mariner on November 2nd, 2012 8:00 am

    “The reality is that the Mariners will probably only get one good big league starter out of that group.”

    Anyone who has trouble believing that, go look at the Future Forty from March ’09, which is still there in the sidebar on the left . . . man alive, is that ugly. I had to keep reminding myself that we got Cliff Lee for three of those guys, or it would have been too depressing to take.

  44. the tourist on November 2nd, 2012 8:33 am

    What about trading some of our minor league pitching for some other team’s minor league hitting? Instead of, as has been suggested by some, targeting Gordon or Craig or Justin Upton, why not target guys like Myers or Tavares, etc.?

  45. henryv on November 2nd, 2012 9:22 am

    What about trading some of our minor league pitching for some other team’s minor league hitting? Instead of, as has been suggested by some, targeting Gordon or Craig or Justin Upton, why not target guys like Myers or Tavares, etc.?

    Very few organizations are actually this dumb.

    So, call the Houston Astros ASAP.

  46. the tourist on November 2nd, 2012 9:43 am

    “Very few organizations are actually this dumb.

    So, call the Houston Astros ASAP.”

    So teams deep in hitting but shallow in pitching wouldn’t trade assets they have a lesser need of for assets they have a greater need of? Guess we really pulled one over on Cashman last offseason….

  47. henryv on November 2nd, 2012 10:06 am

    I know there is an analysis somewhere in the USSM or LL archives, but the reality is that pitching prospects have a very short life, and a low chance of success compared to “equivalent” hitting prospects.

    But I would say that we didn’t pull one (necessarily) on Cashman, because I think think in terms of prospects Montero was anywhere near the quality of what we gave up. Until he got fat, and hurt, of course.

  48. the tourist on November 2nd, 2012 10:16 am

    That’s all well and good in a vacuum. But if a team needs more pitching and have hitting, why wouldn’t they make a deal to land an elite pitching prospect and an additional interesting piece or two?

    I never made a direct proposition. It would cost more than just our top pitching prospect for one of those guys. But yeah, one for one wouldn’t happen.

  49. henryv on November 2nd, 2012 10:16 am

    Pineda, that is.

    I think that Noesi (less talent pitcher, not much upside) plus Montero (less talent hitter, lots of theoretical upside) was pretty fair from a lower minor-league pitcher and Pineda (huge talent pitcher) was pretty much the definition of a straight-across trade, given risks and rewards…

    But is that what the M’s need now? Another AA/AAA hitter? Maybe at first or LF if they’ve got the right skill set, sure. But that’s doesn’t actually make the team better until 2014 or 2015.

  50. the tourist on November 2nd, 2012 10:18 am

    “But that’s doesn’t actually make the team better until 2014 or 2015.”

    Neither do Taijuan Walker, Victor Sanchez, or (likely) Danny Hultzen and James Paxton.

  51. TomC on November 2nd, 2012 10:51 am

    Dave’s post is spot on. I would add, however, that the other options have problems too.

    The Mariners lack sufficient talent at the major league level to be a contending team. Logically, you can increase your talent level through three methods: 1) free agency; 2) trades; and/or 3) developing your prospects.

    Option 1 requires a commitment to payroll the ownership may be unable or unwilling to make. It is also not guaranteed as the Chone Figgins signing demonstrates. In the absence of top tier revenues (NY, Boston, LA, etc.) a bad FA signing can hamper your club for several years.

    Dave has addressed option 2 but it should be emphasized that trades require cooperation from your competitors.

    Option 3 seems to be the best/safest choice but the Mariners have shown no sign of competency at developing prospects internally. That seems to be the Mariner’s core problem – our prospects (and other team’s prospects that we acquire) don’t pan out. Clement, Moore, Aumont, Triunfel, Smoak, the list of failed prospects seems dismally long.

    It seems to me the Mariners primary focus needs to be on fixing their player development issues. I don’t know why, specifically, they are failing but it is clear they are failing. They are very unlikely to develop a consistently winning team until they address this issue.

  52. heyoka on November 2nd, 2012 11:13 am

    Bedard is still available, right?

    He is! Damn, we can’t trade the farm for him this time around. *sigh*

  53. Mariners35 on November 2nd, 2012 12:39 pm

    TomC: Those aren’t either/or options, there. You can choose a bit from all 3.

    That said, your point about player development is an excellent one. I’m surprised it doesn’t come up more often in the M’s blogosphere in general.

    Although, actually, I probably can guess why it doesn’t come up here or at LL much: it’s really hard to quantify, bordering on unquantifiable. Hard to attach some believable objective stats and metrics to the performance of coaches and instructors, or to measure what difference they made vs. what is up to the player vs. anything else.

    One can find contact rates or OBP or groundball ratios or any number of hitting and pitching stats, and sort of roughly translate them into what major league readiness or major league success might look like. You can’t find similar numbers to explain, at the time they’re being developed, what goes wrong with say Clement, Triunfel, etc. You can really only work out some of it in hindsight, if they figure things out later.

    And even then, how much is on the coach, their teach style, their instruction, the playing time allotted to the player, vs. how much is on the player’s skills, effort, ability to learn, etc.?

  54. Rainiers_fan on November 2nd, 2012 2:59 pm

    Ancient Mariner: I looked at the future forty. Thanks for ruining my day. j/k

    I hope my current optimism about the farm system isn’t misplaced. It feels so different this time but is it really?

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