’12 40-Man Preview Extravaganza
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.
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.
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.
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.