’12 40-Man Preview Extravaganza

Jay Yencich · November 5, 2012 at 6:30 am · Filed Under Mariners, Minor Leagues 

So, I suppose it’s time for me to roll the boulder away from the mouth of my cave, stumble out into the world, bleary and unshaven, and do what I otherwise do proficiently, haggard appearance aside. I’ll tell you all about the probable 40-man additions (due Nov. 20th) and spend some time in idle speculation covering more material than is actually meaningful to cover because I’m abnormal in that way. I probably have some kind of brain thing. This year, what we’re looking at is ’08 high school draftees/early international signings and ’09 college draftees, which means that this marks the first year that we’ve been taking into account the Zduriencik era. You might be thinking all kinds of things about how long we’ve been in this particular rebuilding process, but you’re wrong! Baseball takes up so much time.

This round, the Mariners’ likely additions are more pitching-oriented than hitting-oriented, to the dismay of those of us now who really had no idea what things would have looked like four years ago. Actually, we haven’t have hitting for a while. Whatever. Next year is going to be something of a crunch. Why, we’ll be looking to add guys such as Stefen Romero, Leon Landry, Logan Bawcom, Forrest Snow, Tyler Burgoon, and Jordan Shipers, along with a whole slew of international prospects. Won’t that be fun to write about? It might be. We’re not there yet.

This time I’ve started to group things based around what I think will happen as opposed to just lumping all the names together. I’m making things more efficient! For you, not me. This is still ridiculous overall as an exercise.

Near Locks:

RHP Brandon Maurer, 7/3/1990
AA: 9-2, 24 GS, 3.70 tRA (3.20 ERA) in 137.2 IP, 133 H (4 HR), 54 R (49 ER), 117/48 K/BB (20.3% Ks, 8.3% BBs)
Pros: Lively and Improving stuff, healthiest season to date, second half was superior in almost every way, Southern League Pitcher of the Year
Cons: A history of elbow problems, Ks dropped off overall this year, middling command, probably still working on his third pitch

Players enter professional sports based on general rules of human development that say dudes reach maturity around eighteen or maybe a few years later. With Maurer, you’re looking at two possibilities: either he’s been injury-prone all these years due to a larger systemic problem, or he was injured because he wasn’t physically where he needed to be until now. Just like Strasburg was a fat kid in high school and Bucky Jacobsen used to be a member of the swim team! Your answer to the issue as it pertains to Maurer will determine how much value you think he has. If he’s healthy AND reaches his ceiling, he’s a #2 or #3 starter. If he’s only one or neither, your view of him might be high-end reliever or not playing baseball.

LHP Anthony Fernandez, 6/8/1990
A+: 2-5, 14 GS, 2.65 tRA (3.68 ERA) in 88.0 IP, 89 H (6 HR), 43 R (36 ER), 79/14 K/BB (21.6% Ks, 3.8% BBs)
AA: 4-3, 13 GS, 3.60 tRA (3.32 ERA) in 76.0 IP, 74 H (6 HR), 29 R (28 ER) 55/24 K/BB (17.5% Ks, 7.6% BBs)
Pros: Presumably good change-up, added velocity this season, no real injury issues
Cons: Low ceiling, presumably in-progress breaking ball, untested outside of above double-A starts

A former DSL product, Fernandez has been eligible for a while now, but lacked the experience and the velocity to be regarded as much else other than an organizational pitchability lefty that was a bit more exciting than Anthony Vasquez, but probably not much more than Ryan Feierabend. That changed this year when he managed to clean up his command a bit over his 2011 full-season debut and added some velocity while he was at it, to where he now sits in the low 90s. Like a lot of pitchers with his repertoire and history, he’s better on righties than he is on lefties, which means that his value is tied to his ability to start. There’s no reason right now to think that he can’t, but the high minors provide some pretty clear obstacles and he’ll need a better breaking ball to survive against same-handed hitters.

Likely Additions:

LHP Bobby LaFromboise, 6/25/1986
AA: 1-0, 20 G, 0.26 tRA (1.01 ERA) in 26.2 IP, 15 H, 4 R (3 ER), 32/5 K/BB (31.4% Ks, 4.9% BBs)
AAA: 5-2, 27 G, 2.62 tRA (1.59 ERA) in 39.2 IP, 30 H (HR), 7 R, 38/16 K/BB (24.1% Ks, 10.1% BBs)
Pros: Some of the strongest relief numbers in the organization this year, held LHB to a .405 OPS (.228 in Jackson)
Cons: Unexciting stuff, older, floor as a left-on-left guy, some struggles in triple-A

The 2012 season was LaFromboise’s second as a full-time reliever. What he did with the sampling was go from a .268 average against to a .191 combined average against and go from 16.9% Ks to an average of 24.2%. Not insignificant changes. On the downside, his walk% after going to Tacoma was higher than it was last year and it’s hard to tell if his stuff is going to support continued dominance like this. A lot of this was written under the premise that Oliver Perez was out of here, but now that he’s back, LaFromboise may be less valuable with Luetge and Furbush already present.

LHP Brian Moran, 9/30/1988
AA: 1-2, 24 G, 3.11 tRA (1.14 ERA) in 31.2 IP, 30 H (HR), 5 R (4 ER), 29/6 K/BB (22.8% Ks, 4.7% BBs)
AAA: 3-3, 23 G, 3.20 tRA (3.89 ERA) in 37.0 IP, 23 H (6 HR), 17 R (16 ER), 53/12 K/BB (37.5% Ks, 6.6% BBs)
Pros: Didn’t give up a regular-season home run until this year (no, really), capable of getting right-handers out, the older brother of a highly-regarded hitting prospect in the upcoming draft
Cons: LaFromboise was better at getting lefties out this year, relies on wonky delivery, not-good stuff

I was surprised looking up Moran’s numbers to see that he’s been better against right-handers the past couple of seasons, which runs counter to the LOOGY perception he had on draft day. He also significantly upped his Ks on arriving in Tacoma, which was exciting. Both he and LaFromboise are promising bullpen candidates, but it becomes a question of how much roster space you want to devote to these kinds of relievers when you already have options present at the major league level. The Mariners could protect, one, the other, both, or neither and it wouldn’t take me long to rationalize any of it.

RHP Andrew Carraway, 9/4/1986
AA: 4-0, 7 GS, 3.35 tRA (2.61 ERA) in 38.0 IP, 37 H (HR), 11 R, 32/7 K/BB (21.1% Ks, 4.6% BBs)
AAA: 5-7, 20 GS, (4.66 ERA) in 1.12 IP, 114 H (15 HR), 63 R (58 ER), 69/30 K/BB (14.6% Ks, 6.4% BBs)
Pros: “Knows how to pitch” as they say, doesn’t walk many, durable
Cons: Decidedly unsexy stuff, Ks took a hard hit on move to triple-A

For Carraway, it’s “now” or “I don’t know, maybe another organization needs pitching kind of badly.” He’s never been the kind of pitcher that one tries to build plans around, as he’s the type that gains more from his intelligence than his stuff, which is mid-80s velocity and an assortment of other offerings. That’s livable as a southpaw, but as a right-hander, more is often expected. He shows few split issues (slightly better against lefties, with more Ks and fewer walks) and he’s gotten by this far. There are worse options out there to fill a fifth spot in a rotation, but given that he’s competing against all the other pitchers in the organization, things are kind of rough for him. He also erratically updates a very thoughtful blog.

Either Way:

OF Julio Morban, L/L, 2/13/1992
A+: 76 G, 330 PA (300 AB), 56 R, 94 H, 16 H, 2 3B, 17 HR, 52 RBI, 67/21 K/BB, .391 wOBA (.313/.361/.550)
Pros: Has always been a good hitter, no major splits issues, .129 point OPS advantage ON THE ROAD
Cons: Never played more than eighty-two games in a season, road numbers may be inflated by Lancaster

For a while, I had a notion that this was going to be Morban’s year, but then he started going on the DL in June and thereafter played a little over half the games in any given month. When August came around, his playing time was mysteriously erratic, to the extent that where once it looked like he’d easily break through his prior games played high, he only topped it by two. We can attribute these issues to identifiable things like an oblique strain and an ankle sprain, but to say that Morban is prone to injuries is like saying the East Coast was recently wet and also there was a bit of a draft. Players who are unable to stay on the field are not exactly hot commodities. They are soggy and cold commodities.

1B Rich Poythress, 8/11/1987
AA: 86 G, 357 PA (303 AB), 39 R, 92 H, 21 2B, 3B, 6 HR, 45 RBI, 33/50 K/BB, .383 wOBA (.304/.404/.439)
Pros: Walk rates spiked this year while Ks plummeted, improved his average over previous campaign
Cons: Line drives and xbh% dropped, most of his power numbers came in August, old

There’s a theory out there that suggests that big hitters who display strong eye numbers, but limited power, will go on to hit for more power later. Do you subscribe to this theory? If so, Poythress might be of interest to you, and you might put more stock into his one month of power output. If not, he’s just another first baseman in the pile. Historical scouting reports have worried about his bat speed and power output relative to his potential. Usable power and all that. I don’t know.

3B Vinnie Catricala, R/R, 10/31/1988
AAA: 122 G, 507 PA (463 AB), 58 R, 106 H, 23 2B, 3B, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 88/37 K/BB, .310 wOBA (.229/.292/.348)
Pros: Hit recently, was a good defender at one point
Cons: Recently was last year, more errors this year while focusing on his defense, has sucked in the AFL

Cripes. So, last year after he destroyed advanced-A ball and then stomped double-A even harder, I think that we generally felt justified in putting some amount of faith in Catricala. Right? That was last year though and this April, he couldn’t break a water-filled piñata. After the .445 OPS posting that month, he did recover, but peaked at a .743 OPS in June and his July K/BB of 11/9 was followed by a strikeouts spike to give him a 23/7 K/BB in August. If you want scattered signs of possible improvement, I’m not seeing them aside from the April rebound. We don’t know what Catricala is right now, but we seem fairly clear on the fact that he is not presently what 2011 suggested. That’s a bummer.

RHP Danny Farquhar, 2/17/1987
AAA: 2-2, 18 G, 3.38 ERA in 26.2 IP, 19 H (HR), 10 R, 23/11 K/BB (20.7% Ks, 9.9% BBs)
AA: 1-1, 26 G, 2.18 ERA in 41.1 IP, 30 H (2 HR), 14 R (10 ER), 47/10 K/BB (28.0% Ks, 5.95% BBs)
Pros: Held right-handers to a .589 OPS over past two years, some decent stuff
Cons: Walks a lot of left-handed bats and puts up clearly inferior averages when facing them

Farquhar spent the season bouncing around like baseball’s equivalent of a hot potato or any ball that Carlos Peguero hits against the Angels. What he provides generally is valuable enough to keep him in contention for a job, even with competitive teams (he was a minor league for two of them this year), but like all relievers of his ilk, his value can be diminished by competent pinch or switch-hitters. Also I have less of an attachment to players who are new to the organization, but then Ichiro trade :(

CF Darren Ford, R/R, 10/1/1985
AAA: 70 G, 329 PA (304 AB), 39 R, 83 H, 16 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 61/23K/BB, .347 wOBA (.273/.326/.385)
Pros: Speed, some on-base ability, .800+ OPS over June and July
Cons: Hasn’t hit much at the higher levels, success rate in using speed is low, bad August, older

I only really put Ford on here because a lot of people were asking me about him last year. I’m not actually interested in Ford or what he brings to the table. Ford doesn’t hit for a high average, doesn’t excel at minimizing his strikeouts or stealing bases, and doesn’t have much power to speak of. That leaves you with his walks as a selling point. There, he beats out Wells, but doesn’t beat out Robinson, who has better power numbers and comparable stolen base abilities. If not for people wanting me to talk about Darren Ford, I’d see no point in doing so.

Doubtful, but Who Knows?:

OF James Jones, L/L, 9/24/1988
A+: 126 G, 559 PA (493 AB), 109 R, 151 H, 28 2B, 12 3B, 14 HR, 76 RBI, 124/54 K/BB, .382 wOBA (.306/.378/.497)
Pros: Still super-toolsy, played a majority of his games in center (a first), had his usual second-half surge, strikeout% dropped
Cons: .768 road OPS, .740 OPS against LHB, walk% dropped by 2.5%, stolen base efficiency dropped by over 20%

I exit every April with a tombstone chiseled that reads “James Jones’ Hitting Career” and then at some point after that, I have realized that good stone has gone to waste. One of these days, I’ll learn my lesson and stop writing the dates. The past two years, he’s had a combined April OPS of less than .500. Every other month is at least .800, except July, which is over a thousand. Jones did improve his strikeout rate in every month except June, but given his other flaws, how would you reasonably choose to project him? The talent is there, but it’s hard to see any team willing to take him anyway, so meh. He seems like he could be an acceptable risk to leave off.

————————————

These are hardly the only names eligible. Here is a list of eligible players, of which if I’ve forgotten to list anyone then they must not be very memorable at all. Some of the names I even gave rationales for why I didn’t bother to write about them:

Denny Almonte (second half was bad), Jonathan Arias, Tyler Blandford, Daniel Carroll (injuries strike back), Joe Dunigan (Ks, DHed almost exclusively), Oliver Garcia, James Gillheeney (no stuff), Isliexel Gonzalez, Mayckol Guaipe, Ambioris Hidalgo, Jose Jimenez, Mario Martinez (home/road), Ramon Morla, Dennis Raben, Angel Raga, Kalian Sams, Scott Savastano, Taylor Stanton, Nate Tenbrink (not healthy enough, trouble squaring-up left-handed pitching), Jose Valdivia, Anthony Vasquez (LOL), Mario Yepez, Janelfry Zorilla

So there you have it. A few starting candidates seem to be the most likely candidates to be added, then some bullpen guys and further down, talented but flawed hitters. We need more good hitters. My, how we need more good hitters.

Comments

26 Responses to “’12 40-Man Preview Extravaganza”

  1. wsm on November 5th, 2012 7:32 am

    A few of the guys should be 6-year minor league free agents, I think – Fernandez, Farquhar, Ford, Arias, Carroll, Almonte, Chavez, Dunigan, Chiang, M.Martinez, Morla, etc.

    I’m not sure when exactly these guys are officially free agents, but it should be very soon. Some clubs have already purchased contracts for the guys they want to keep. I would guess we’ll see Fernandez added sooner rather than later.

  2. Westside guy on November 5th, 2012 10:17 am

    Thank you, Jay. It definitely will be interesting to see what 40-man moves are made by the team this time around.

  3. maqman on November 5th, 2012 11:10 am

    Always glad to read your opinion Jay. LaFromboise and Catricala are not looking so hot in the AFL, although Cat has picked it up a bit lately. I was surprised to see Nate Tenbrink ended the season at Jackson with a better OPS (.935) than Franklin and Miller, only surpassed by Zunino and Romero. I wasn’t even sure he was still with the organization, he must have been on the DL for much of the first half. Some may be picked in the Rule 5 draft but they most likely will be returned or just not missed.

  4. Mid80sRighty on November 5th, 2012 4:28 pm

    “the type that gains more from his intelligence than his stuff, which is mid-80s velocity and an assortment of other offerings. That’s livable as a southpaw, but as a right-hander, more is often expected.”

    I know this all too well… ;)

    Thanks as always Jay! You always provide lots of information about prospects that I, otherwise, wouldn’t have known. And I say feel free to ramble on as much as you’d like, it doesn’t cost me anything to scroll on past. haha

  5. stevemotivateir on November 5th, 2012 4:53 pm

    ” Some of the names I even gave rationales for why I didn’t bother to write about them”

    I love how after listing Anthony Vasquez, the rationale is LOL. Too funny!

    Seriously though, thanks for the detailed post, Jay!

  6. dchappelle on November 5th, 2012 4:58 pm

    Hooray! Jay!

  7. Westside guy on November 5th, 2012 9:23 pm

    When I think of Anthony Vasquez, “LOL” isn’t what first comes to mind… :-D

  8. BackRub on November 5th, 2012 9:46 pm

    I actually hope Catricala is added to the 40-man. I could see a team taking him in the Rule 5 draft while hoping he bounces back next year. They give him a few at-bats in April and if he looks good they hang onto him. If not, they let him go with little damage done. I’d prefer we hang on to him and see if w/e happened this season can fix itself over the winter.

  9. 9inningknowitall on November 6th, 2012 8:02 am

    I always enjoy hearing about the Mariners farm system whether its top prospects or guys just fighting to stay relevant. I don’t see any names that are going to make or break the team either way but no sense losing a guy who has potential if you don’t have to. I’m actually interested in seeing if there are any players in the Rule 5 draft that would be worth taking for a team. M’s have done okay in the Rule 5.

  10. Jay Yencich on November 6th, 2012 9:53 am

    According to BA, these are the names of our six-year FAs coming up. Some expected ones, some not.

    Seattle Mariners
    RHP: Moises Hernandez (AA), David Pauley (AAA), Brian Sweeney (AAA)
    LHP: Steve Garrison (AA), Jose Jimenez (AA)
    C: Jesus Sucre (AA)
    1B: Luis Jimenez (AAA)
    2B: Carlos Ramirez (HiA), Luis Rodriguez (AAA)
    3B: Leury Bonilla (AA)
    OF: Johermyn Chavez (AA), Chih-Hsien Chiang (AA), Darren Ford (AAA), Kuo Hui Lo (AA)

  11. HighBrie on November 6th, 2012 11:32 am

    Hi Jay. A few questions. What are Jesus Sucre’s strengths? Do you know much/anything about his pitch framing/defensive abilities? It would be nice if the “cheap placeholder catcher” we needed to fill Olivo’s locker could be found from within the org. Second– is it your feeling that few outside of Maurer and Fernandez (maybe Moran) would be pilfered from our coffers if they were not listed? I like a lot of these players, and really want to see what happens if Jones and Morban (and Raben, frankly) are pushed a lot harder, but it may be no one would take them even if they were unprotected.

  12. sexymarinersfan on November 6th, 2012 3:34 pm

    When I saw him down in a hand full of games last Spring Training, he held his own and actually hit pretty darned well. He’s no where close to a major league quality back up. He reminds me a lot of Quiroz with better speed.

  13. SonOfZavaras on November 6th, 2012 3:54 pm

    Always good to see a Jay Yencich article! Thank you! As stellar as ever.

    Just a suggestion for M’s management: but IMHO, Yoervis Medina has no business taking up a 40-man-roster spot.

  14. G-Man on November 6th, 2012 4:06 pm

    M’s claim Scott Cousins off waivers from the Blue Jays. Ho hum.

    https://twitter.com/SosnickCobbe/status/265897169108754433

  15. SonOfZavaras on November 6th, 2012 11:54 pm

    Hmmmm, another lefty unproven bat on a team loaded with them.

    Still, I think I like what he brings to the table more than I do Eric Thames. We shall see.

  16. Typical Idiot Fan on November 7th, 2012 3:33 am

    Hey Jay, quick possible future piece: what with Puerto Ricans passing the referendum for petition as the 51st State of the Union, how would baseball be effected with the draft, etc?

  17. bookbook on November 7th, 2012 4:46 am

    Puerto Rico is no more likely to win this Congress’ approval for statehood than my protectorate of Washington DC.

  18. Mike Snow on November 7th, 2012 11:46 am

    Puerto Ricans, as well as Canadians, are already subject to the draft, so statehood shouldn’t make much difference to the sport if it happened.

  19. msfanmike on November 7th, 2012 12:07 pm

    Cousins sound ‘okay’ for minor league depth, but placing him on the 40 man roster is very peculiar.

    In regard to freeing up space on the 40-man roster, this sure sounds like it could be a good model for the M’s to follow in regard to Figgins (cut and past excerpt from MLBTR):

    “The Mets and Jason Bay have agreed to an early expiration of his contract, making him a free agent. The team announced the move in a press release. Joel Sherman of The New York Post reports (on Twitter) that Bay will receive all $21MM left on his contract, though some of it is being deferred. Bay is represented by Joe Urbon at CAA Sports.

    Bay, 34, signed a four-year, $66MM contract with the Mets prior to 2010. He was still owed $16MM in 2013, a $3MM buyout of his 2014 club/vesting option, and $2MM worth of signing bonus money. All of that accounts for the $21MM, which will now be spread over several years rather than the next 12 months”

    And now that costs are not a big issue, doesn’t this move also put Bay on the Mariners radar? He has to be better than Cousins. Doesn’t he?

  20. Westside guy on November 7th, 2012 1:18 pm

    Hey I remember when people were bemoaning the fact we didn’t go hard after Bay the first time. :-D

    I’m not sure what the appeal would be now, given he’s always been a crap defender and now isn’t significantly better offensively than our in-house outfield options.

  21. msfanmike on November 7th, 2012 1:39 pm

    “I’m not sure what the appeal would be now, given he’s always been a crap defender and now isn’t significantly better offensively than our in-house outfield options.”

    No argument here, but still better than Cousins – don’t you think? At least as a hitter. And definitely when it comes to going out of his way to take out a catcher (Cousins is the guy who blew out Posey’s leg).

  22. stevemotivateir on November 7th, 2012 3:31 pm

    Cousins will probably replace Ford or Wilson in Tacoma. Making roster space for a better player really shouldn’t be a problem, if a better option were to appear.

    Bay, however, may very well challenge for a spot on the 25 man if the M’s picked him up. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’s a better option than Cousins, but I’d be bummed if those two were the only outfield options we ended up with this off-season!

  23. SonOfZavaras on November 7th, 2012 3:42 pm

    No argument here, but still better than Cousins – don’t you think? At least as a hitter. And definitely when it comes to going out of his way to take out a catcher (Cousins is the guy who blew out Posey’s leg).

    I remember. But I saw that play, and IMHO Cousins didn’t go out of his way to take out Posey. Posey was blocking the plate (he should have been IN FRONT of the plate until he really had the ball), although of course I think it was unfortunate he got hurt.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/723413-buster-posey-nobody-to-blame-but-himself

    It was just a good, hard baseball play with really unfortunate results.

  24. Westside guy on November 7th, 2012 8:41 pm

    Yeah, I gotta say I wasn’t overwhelmed by the Cousins pickup either. But the guy does have a minor-league option left, so that’s an advantage I suppose.

    We’re not exactly rolling in hot-hitting outfield prospects right now… not that the Cousins pickup changed that fact. :-D

  25. californiamariner on November 7th, 2012 10:29 pm

    What do you guys think about the Hamilton talk? The rumors are picking up, and I’m sure the rumors will continue.

  26. msfanmike on November 8th, 2012 8:26 am

    Well, we remember it differently, “Son of Zavaras.” So I watched the video again and what I remember lines up with what I just saw:

    I remember Posey being in front of (on the north side of) the plate awaiting the ball. Cousins barrelled into him at Posey’s chest/chin height and snapped him backward. He had he entire plate available to him, but he went to the inside to take out Posey – instead of sliding to the back side – or even straight though – the plate.

    Posey has stated many times that he “was not blocking the plate.”

    Regardless, I think its a moot point. I should not have brought it up. It was a borderline play and Posey is healthy and wearing another ring. Cousins is still struggling to make a major league career for himself and for some reason he has landed on the Mariners 40 man roster.

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