Current Roles

Dave · January 13, 2013 at 11:17 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The Mariners roster isn’t complete. They’re going to add someone, maybe a couple of someones, before the season starts. There’s no way they’re going into the season with a $70 million payroll, not after Howard Lincoln spent the beginning of the winter talking about how the budget was “going up”. So, in some ways, this is a bit of an exercise in futility, since looking at how the roster fits together now will be different from looking how it fits together when the season starts.

But, I think viewing the roster this way also helps clarify what the team actually needs right now. For whatever reason, people have become accustomed to talking about roles in the context of batting order — so and so is a leadoff hitter, the team needs a guy who can hit third, etc… — even though batting order hardly matters at all, and teams shouldn’t spend much time at all concerning themselves with who is going to hit where when deciding which players to acquire. In reality, a team should figure out who their best nine players are for a given match-up, and then they can figure out what order those nine should hit in after that. So, let’s not pay any regard to batting order for now. Let’s just figure out who should play, and where the guys on the roster fit right now.

Versus a Right-Handed Starter

Position Player Bats
C John Jaso L
1B Kendrys Morales S
2B Dustin Ackley L
3B Kyle Seager L
SS Brendan Ryan R
LF Michael Saunders L
CF Franklin Gutierrez R
RF Casper Wells R
DH Jesus Montero R
DH Raul Ibanez L
IF Robert Andino R
1B Justin Smoak S
OF Jason Bay R

It’s not very hard to start spotting problems with this group, of course. Casper Wells probably isn’t a guy you want as your everyday right fielder against RHPs, which is why the Mariners keep trying to acquire a better RF. Wells is better suited to the role Bay is in, but now that the organization has guaranteed $3 million to Raul Ibanez, there’s not room for both. In fact, there’s not really room for both Bay and Ibanez even now, as this group comes with some serious in-game strategy problems.

For one, having both Jaso and Montero in the line-up without having a third catcher on the roster means that you can’t pinch hit for Jaso against LHPs in high leverage situations, and Wedge would probably even be reluctant to pinch run for Jesus Montero without another catcher on the roster, as an injury to Jaso after removing Montero would leave the team without a backstop to finish the game. Ibanez was a catcher 15 years ago, but asking the 41-year-old to serve as the emergency catcher seems unlike something a Major League manager would want to do to his respected veteran. Yeah, you could wiggle through a few innings if necessary with Andino or whoever behind the dish, but it would be embarrassing, and MLB managers do not like to be publicly embarrassed. It’s why you don’t see teams building rosters with the backup catcher moonlighting as the DH, at least, not without having another backup catcher on the roster.

The best solution to this problem is to actually carry a third catcher, specifically, a right-handed catcher who could pinch-hit for Jaso against LHPs without wasting two bench players in the process. Kelly Shoppach would be perfect for that role. But, now that the Mariners have committed to carrying a backup DH/veteran presence, it’s hard to figure out how you’d get a third catcher onto this team. You can’t get rid of Andino; he’s the only backup infield on the roster (more on that in a second). You can’t get rid of Bay, because even if you don’t like him as a bounce back candidate, he’s basically a stand-in for the “extra outfielder” that is an absolute necessity on this roster due to Franklin Gutierrez’s health problems. With Guti’s track record, the fourth OF needs to be able to step in as a full time player and provide some value. You can’t punt that position, and Raul Ibanez can’t be that guy. If you had three workhorse starters who would play everyday, maybe you could fake it with Ibanez as your fourth OF, playing once every few weeks when someone needs a breather. With Guti around? No way.

So, with Ibanez having the Life Coach spot on the roster locked down, the only vulnerable guy on the bench is Smoak. But, that presents a small problem in its own right, as Morales isn’t exactly an ironman himself, and is expected to get a decent amount of time at DH, meaning that someone else on the team has to be able to play first base. Some have suggested that this is where Ibanez will get his playing time, spelling Morales at first and replacing Smoak as the part-time first baseman on the roster. However, that doesn’t really work either, and this is why its important to look at rosters like this. To further explain the issue here, here’s the same group and how they would shake out against lefties.

Position Player Bats
C Jesus Montero R
1B Justin Smoak S
2B Dustin Ackley L
3B Kyle Seager L
SS Brendan Ryan R
LF Michael Saunders L
CF Franklin Gutierrez R
RF Casper Wells R
DH Kendrys Morales S
DH Raul Ibanez L
IF Robert Andino R
C John Jaso L
OF Jason Bay R

Kicking Smoak off the roster to give the bench a little more flexibility creates a problem against lefties; who plays first base then? With Smoak around, he’s the easy choice, and you can basically schedule Morales’ DH days in order to keep him from having to play the field too regularly. Let’s say you replace Smoak with a guy like Shoppach, though… who plays first against a lefty then?

Ibanez’s only value comes against right-handed pitching; playing him against a lefty is an affront to the people paying to see the team play that day. If the plan is really to use Ibanez as the 1B against lefties when Morales needs a DH day, then they should just refund season ticket holders their money and issue a public apology for not being able to do better than this. That can’t be the plan. So, what’s left? Jason Bay, who has never played a professional inning of first base in his life.

You could teach him in spring training, of course, because it’s first base and it’s not that hard, but now you’re asking your fourth outfielder — on a team where the fourth outfielder is probably going to play a decent amount — to also be your first baseman against lefties. He can’t do both at the same time, and the simple fact of the matter is that with this roster construction, there is absolutely no way around the fact that you’d have multiple situations throughout the year where minor injuries forced Wedge into choosing between a host of terrible options. In reality, the best option here might be starting Robert Andino at second base and shifting Ackley over to first base, but that’s just admitting that the team built a roster where the platoon first baseman against left-handers is the backup shortstop. That’s sad.

So, Smoak — or a right-handed bench bat who can also play first base — is still something of a necessity on this roster. This is why the team pursued a guy like Mike Napoli, since he could have served as both the third catcher and the 1B vs LHPs at the same time. Unfortunately, acquiring Ibanez means that they’re now choosing between a third catcher and a right-handed first baseman, unless they can find another right-handed catcher who you also would be okay with putting in the line-up at first base against lefties.

Shoppach might actually be that kind of guy, considering he’s hit lefties pretty well in his career, but he’s also never played an inning at first base in his professional career. Given the team’s reluctance to using Jaso or Montero at first base last year, it doesn’t seem like Wedge is just willing to punt first base defense while an unathletic catcher learns how to play the position for the first time. But, this reinforces my suggestion that Montero should get significant reps at first base, and should probably be looked at more as a 1B/DH going forward than a C/DH.

If Montero became even moderately serviceable at first base, this all becomes fairly easy, as right-handed catcher guy goes behind the plate, Montero plays first against lefties, and the entire roster dilemma is solved. The team has given lip service to Montero getting some reps at first base, but given Ibanez’s acquisition, it’s not really a little perk if he can learn the position – it’s now a huge roster issue. This roster works against lefties — well, kind of — if Montero can play first base. If he can’t, it’s kind of a disaster.

Speaking of minor disasters, let’s talk about the infield for a second. We touched on Andino being the only backup infielder on the roster, which might seem okay at first glance given that he’s got experience at all three infield positions and could theoretically cover them all by himself. But, again, there’s in-game strategy issues that suggest that’s a pretty bad idea.

When Ibanez was acquired, the spin was that his primary role would be as a pinch-hitter. A late game left-handed bat off the bench. It was kind of funny to hear that, given that Wedge was resistant to using a left-handed bat off the bench last year for fear of the opposing manager making a pitching change, but hey, let’s just go with the flow for now. Ibanez’s role has been generally cast as “pinch hitter”. Which starting position player do you most often want to pinch hit for? Yes, that’s right, Brendan Ryan. He’s a bad hitter. He makes up for it with his glove, but the glove doesn’t matter when he’s due up with the bases loaded in the 7th inning of a tie game and you really, really want a base hit.

So, what happens when you pinch hit for Ryan in that 7th inning situation? Andino replaces him at shortstop for the remainder of the game. No problem, that’s why you have a backup shortstop. Only, now, what happens if Seager, Andino, or Ackley get hit by a pitch and have to leave the game? Or pull a hamstring running down the line? We’re not just talking about some long shot situation that will never occur. Ibanez was specifically acquired to be a bat off the bench, and in a large majority of those games, the guy you want him pinch hitting for is Brendan Ryan. That means that you’re asking Eric Wedge to finish a large number of games without a safety net. Pretty much every extra inning game, you can bet Ryan will have been pinch hit for long before it concludes. By the end of the year, you’re probably looking at 50+ innings where the team will have played without a backup infielder.

It’s one thing to ask a manager to consider having to forfeit the DH every once in a while to move Montero behind the plate if Jaso gets hurt. Having the pitcher’s spot due up is unfortunate, but it’s workable. You pinch-hit, or you bunt, and people aren’t that weirded out by pitchers hitting. But, what is Wedge supposed to do in one of these games where he’s already pinch-hit for Brendan Ryan and then Seager, Ackley, or Andino himself gets injured? Who, exactly, are you sticking in the field as their replacement?

If Smoak is still on the team, the answer is Jason Bay, because Smoak’s a left-handed thrower, and left-handed throwers can’t really play third, second, or shortstop without contorting their body in order to throw the ball towards first base. Bay, a career infielder, would almost certainly have to play third base, with Seager acting as the backup 2B/SS if anything happened to either Ackley or Andino. It’s one thing to try and teach a 34-year-old Jason Bay how to play first base because the roster doesn’t really work; it’s something else entirely to try and teach him how to play third base. Or, if Bay loses out on the 4th OF job, then we’re talking about Casper Wells instead. He’s younger, and he has a good throwing arm, but do you really think Eric Wedge wants to see Casper Wells play third base in 2013?

That’s where the team is headed if Robert Andino is the only infielder on the roster. Remember what we said about managers not liking to be embarrassed? Jason Bay or Casper Wells playing third base is embarrassing. It’s the primary reason Chone Figgins hung around on the roster all summer, even after the team decided they didn’t want him anymore. They just weren’t willing to play with one reserve infielder. Not when Brendan Ryan is one of your starting infielders. Especially not now, when you have a guy on the roster whose sole job is Brendan Ryan’s Pinch Hitter.

So, now, we’re at a spot where the team could really use another catcher, and they could really use another infielder, but the only vulnerable roster spot right now belongs to Justin Smoak, who is also penciled in as the 1B versus LHPs. You can take Smoak away if you teach Montero how to play first base, but then you’re still left with one roster spot for a guy who can cover both catcher and third base. Which is not Kelly Shoppach. In fact, it’s very few players. Last year, just eight players appeared in a big league game at both catcher and third base. Brandon Snyder caught one inning, and Vinny Rottino caught four; neither of them really qualify for what we’re talking about here. The rest of the names? Jordan Pacheco, Wilin Rosario, Josh Donaldson, Steve Clevenger, Yan Gomes, and Chris Gimenez.

Yes, Chris Gimenez. You remember Gimenez, most likely. That’s the kind of Major Leaguer that both catches and plays third base. And that’s the kind of guy that the Mariners need to seriously look at acquiring. You don’t really want him playing too often either, but you’re better off with him behind the plate and Montero at first than you are with Montero behind the plate and Andino filling the first base role, even if he’s not actually playing first base. And you’re better off because then you’d have another backup infielder on the team, so Wedge could pinch hit for Brendan Ryan to his heart’s content. Or pinch run for Jesus Montero. Or pinch-hit for John Jaso against a lefty. Believe it or not, having a Chris Gimenez around would open up a decent amount of in-game moves to Eric Wedge, and would likely save the team from some potential embarrassment in the process.

This is what stocking the team with DHs does to you. In reality, the Mariners don’t just need “a bat”, and they certainly can’t use another player who can’t play the field. They could use a better right fielder, which would also make the bench better by allowing them to replace Bay with Wells, but that isn’t the only need on the position player side of things. By bringing in Raul Ibanez and giving him one of the reserve spots, they took away a decent amount of flexibility, and the only real way to get it back is to have a catcher who can also play some third base, and then teach Montero to play first base while they’re at it.

We’re already 2,600 words into this post, so I’ll skip the parts about how I’m afraid not fixing this problem will encourage Wedge to DH Ibanez at the expense of John Jaso, but suffice it to say, we haven’t covered all of the problems with this current roster yet. Hopefully, we won’t have to. Hopefully, in the next month, the Mariners will actually fill out the team with some better players, and some players who fit together to make a team better than this motley crew they have now.

Comments

61 Responses to “Current Roles”

  1. lailaihei on January 13th, 2013 11:55 pm

    Casper Wells has a .329 wOBA over 656 plate appearances in the major leagues in limited playing time, and plays above-average defense for a corner outfielder. I don’t think he’s an everyday RF on a championship team, but I don’t see a problem with sticking with him in a season where we probably won’t compete for a playoff spot, and where we have guys who are much closer to replacement level slotted as the 4th and 5th starters.

  2. MrZDevotee on January 13th, 2013 11:55 pm

    (I feel like I should duck before even suggesting this, but…)

    I know you already made the case about NOT Mike Morse, but given the above breakdown, and it’s bleakness, Mike Morse neatly replaces Jason Bay on the roster while offering a 1B, a better-than-Ibanez extra OF/Wells platoon guy, and he came up as a SS for the Mariners originally. So, he could theoretically be a “don’t embarrass us until the guy from Tacoma gets here tomorrow” SS or 3B in an emergency, with Seager and Ackley having 2B/1B flexibility.

    Not ideal, but he’s out there, and fits the puzzle ever more better than Smoak and/or Bay (who are almost the same guy, really, as far as limitations to flexibility).

    To my less enlightened mind, at least, in no worse way he replaces the presence of both Smoak AND Bay on the roster, allowing space for the 3rd catcher we still need (basically, with Ibanez and Morse you’ve got the same RH and LH hitting options on the bench that Smoak and Bay provide, instead of having Smoak, Bay AND Ibanez).

    Of course, there’s another answer too– which is more akin to your “the roster can’t be finished yet” hopes (like mine)…

    Montero is traded… Wells moves to the bench… And we bring in 1) a starting OF, and 2) a Gimenez-esque catcher. Then we put Zunino on the fast track (with fingers crossed) for a midseason call up.

  3. MrZDevotee on January 14th, 2013 12:05 am

    (Looking it up– Morse did play 3B once in D.C., in this very role, as an emergency replacement, in 2009… He played 1B, 3B, RF, and LF that season.)

  4. Westside guy on January 14th, 2013 12:07 am

    My problem with this whole piece is I can’t see Wedge using Ibañez as a bench bat. I really expect Wedge to hand him a starting outfield job. If I’m right, that changes the dynamic (and not for the better).

  5. MrZDevotee on January 14th, 2013 12:10 am

    Westy-
    I have a toothache right now, and that post made it hurt way worse. Thanks A LOT. (And I’m NOT kidding- *sad laugh*)

  6. vetted_coach on January 14th, 2013 12:20 am

    [Goodbye.]

  7. Gibbo on January 14th, 2013 12:58 am

    You just know that Wedge will over use Ibanez, Giminez makes a lot of sense, I wonder how much getting Napoli would have changed the roster construction, would we of needed the cheerleader that is Ibanez?

    Any chance we go with a 6 man pen, I guess probably not. But something has to change.

    I could see Smoak going to AAA unless he has a strong spring, that could also free up some space.

  8. Dan on January 14th, 2013 1:41 am

    That was a long, drawn out post…

    The Mariners played 15 extra inning games in 2012 and one game less than 9 innings (7 innings @ CHW 8/26). By my calculations, in terms of net innings they played 41 extra innings throughout the 2012 season. That is 41 extra defensive innings (+/- based on home or away) and conservatively about 56 times at-bat from the 8th inning on (“leverage situations”).

    I would much rather those scarce appearances during those roughly 56 times at-bat go to the most deserving bench bat, whether it be Ibanez, Jaso, Andino, Smoak; or the current lineup player based on the match-up that day than worry about risking an emergency defensive catcher or infielder and spending extra $$$ or sacrifice prospects on those rare innings and ABs. What are the realistic chances in those 55 times at-bat and/or 41 innings a player gets injured where there is no true backup for them? Not nearly as high as when we need a player that can just purely hit.

    There is way too much emphasis put on these 55+/- times at-bat each year and the resulting defensive questions than the real leverage situations that make or break a season. I would much rather see John Jaso up there once against a lefty in the bottom of the 15th with runners in scoring position than worry about who we could of had instead if we had spent an extra 500K or moved a minor leaguer during the off-season!

    We are talking about +/- 1 or 2 WAR when this team needs to focus on a whole lot more than that to be competitive. I hope we have more valuable conversations here in two months than this!

    Go M’s!

  9. maqman on January 14th, 2013 3:18 am

    So, much ado about not much?

  10. wsm on January 14th, 2013 4:16 am

    They aren’t bringing in a 3rd catcher. Jacks made it pretty clear he’s happy with Jaso and Montero splitting time. It’s not ideal but its also temporary.

    It’s very likely they bring in another IF for the bench. If you’re really worried about an emergency catcher, how about Brandon Inge?

  11. Greeff on January 14th, 2013 4:19 am

    “The Mariners roster isn’t complete. They’re going to add someone, maybe a couple of someones, before the season starts”.”

    I think that says it all.. this roster is not complete yet.
    I still think JZ will make a big trade to aquire the missing pieces.

  12. Bryce on January 14th, 2013 5:52 am

    I disagree with the third sentence. I think there’s a pretty good likelihood that they start the season with a sub $70 million payroll, or perhaps barely more than that once they fill out the roster. There’s simply nobody left that they can spend extra $ on, at least as a free agent anyway, that makes much sense.

  13. terryoftacoma on January 14th, 2013 6:06 am

    I agreed this roster isn’t complete. I think we’ll add a starter or two unless we want to start 2/5′s of our games with Noesi and Beaven. We have no left handed starters at all which isn’t a major problem but it should at least be noted.

    I don’t think we will go with more than 4 outfielders and although I don’t want to see it. I’m very much afraid we’ll see quite a lot of Raul in left. I pray we keep Wells and cut Bay but the organization doesn’t seem to be very high on him. We know Wedge isn’t.

    Wedge doesn’t play spits as often as he should unless your name is Jaso or Wells and he rarely pitch hits for his starters. Knowing that I don’t see Ibanez in a PH/DH role even if we think that’s where he should be.

    I can easily see Smoak starting in Tacoma until we trade one of(or both) Morales and Ibanez in July. We currently have Franklin who could fill that extra infielder role.

    The options are there. Just not the mass improvements that we’d like to see.

    I hope Z can pull a rabbit out of his hat and we add an outfielder that will push Ibanez into that PH/DH role because if he doesn’t I think we’ll be seeing a lot of him on the field.

  14. dchappelle on January 14th, 2013 6:22 am

    So to me this post is basically: the Bay signing was odd and a waste since Wells is better and alreadythere but whatever and the Ibanez signing was horrendous.

    These M’s will probably be an embarrassment this year and Z is probably going to lose his job. Too bad since he definitely seems to get great value out of the draft.

  15. Hunter Starkweather on January 14th, 2013 6:30 am

    Unless Smoak is moved, it appears as though Montero and Jaso will act as a regular catching tandem, with neither one of them seeing much time at DH. As Dave pointed out, the M’s do not have room to add a third catcher given the current roster construction. C would be split between Montero and Jaso and and 1B/DH would rotate between Smoak and Morales.

    I also wonder if the M’s look for a potential Monero trade, which would allow them to sign Shoppach, who would team up with Jaso to fill in all the C duties.

    One way to help the outfield would be a Bourn signing, which would allows the M’s to have Bourn, Guti, Saunders, Ibanez and one of Wells/Bay. Some combination of those five would provide at least three good defensive players.

  16. stevemotivateir on January 14th, 2013 6:32 am

    What could be more embarrassing than a 2600-plus word rant concerning this particular assemblage that begins with the claim that batting order isn’t important, pit stops with Raul Ibanez behind the plate, and includes imagining Jason Bay at 3B? A very silly read.

    The answer to your question: Your comment.

  17. wilchiro on January 14th, 2013 6:46 am

    Should the M’s really be focused on an emergency catcher right now? How many clubs in the MLB carry three catchers on their roster? I bet the M’s would be the only one. I’m pretty sure Jaso and Montero can suffice until midseason when Zunino is potentially called up.

    What I’m more embarressed about is payroll going down $30+ million in the past four years, ticket sales plummeting, and no playoffs in well over a decade. Not to mention we’re likely going to end up starting Bay or Ibanez in right field.

    Jack Z has alot of work to do and it’s getting pretty late in the offseason. Pitchers and catchers report in four weeks.

    What I’d like him to do is sign Bourn to a major discount as compared to what he would have been two months ago, cut ties with Bay in favor of Wells, ink an additional utility player and sign some back-end rotation arms so that Beaven doesn’t need to be used. I’d even trade Smoak for Matusz as has been rumored.

  18. omahajoe on January 14th, 2013 8:09 am

    Thanks for this post, Dave. I was struggling trying to make these pieces fit as well. I overlooked the need for another backup infielder, but can see that has value due to the high probability of pitch hitting for Ryan.

    I laughed pretty hard at the thought of Bay playing 3B. Scary.

    This roster is not complete yet, but agree there are many flaws that need to be fixed in the next 3-4 weeks. I’m starting to get very concerned that we’re taking a small step back in 2013. Tyring to remain patient, but the clock is ticking this offseason! Hopefully we’ll start to see Z address some of these issues with more clarity now that the Upton dealing is done.

  19. Jerry on January 14th, 2013 8:12 am

    Isn’t it likely that this problem will sort itself out?

    The M’s have a lot of uncertainty on the club right now. I think there’s a very sting possibility that one or more of these guys remove themselves from consideration.

    I saw the Bay addition as more of high-profile lottery ticket. If he has an amazing turnaround in spring training, great. But I think there is a great chance he doesn’t even make the club.

    Guti has had tons of trouble staying healthy, and Morales also has had health problems. Justin Smoak is probably on his last chance, and there is a good chance he gets sent down if he doesn’t look like his late season improvements carried over. And Jaso, while coming off an excellent season, hasn’t proven he can play at that level consistently. There is a good chance he regresses.

    As Dave pointed out, the offseason isn’t over and the team clearly is still looking to make improvements. But even if this is it, I doubt the M’s are expecting all these guys to be on the team. I think the ms plan thus far has been to stockpile low-cost, high-risk, moderate-reward players and see what happens. Right now, we have Bay, Guti, Ibanez, Jaso, Montero, Morales, Smoak, Thames, and Wells competing for 6 spots: OF, 4th OF, C, DH, and 1B. It’s a good bet that two or more of these guys will just remove themselves from the competition through either poor play or injury. I’d bet on Thames and Bay being the ones who don’t make it, but who knows. At least we have more depth than last year.

  20. TherzAlwaysHope on January 14th, 2013 8:44 am

    “This roster works against lefties — well, kind of — if Montero can play first base. If he can’t, it’s kind of a disaster.”

    I can’t imagine Montero slug dancing around 1st base. Actually I did once, and my tooth started hurting.

  21. ChrisFB on January 14th, 2013 8:52 am

    Ugh, good job laying out the ripple effect of the current mid-January roster. I knew it was getting clogged, and had a dearth of middle infielders going on in there… but I hadn’t seen just how bad it is.

    It’s just as troubling to me that possibly the only way to fix these holes is by trading for players who have no say in where they go, or by acquiring minor enough talents that don’t have multiple suitors clamoring for their services. I.e. Hamilton being wooed by the Angels, Swisher preferring Cleveland, and Upton flat saying “no”, makes me wonder what the M’s can do this winter to get any premium talent to make significant roster upgrades.

    The longer-term answer is obvious of course – win, and keep winning, and become that on-the-cusp-of-contending club that won’t look like career suicide. But as of mid January 2013, I don’t know how the M’s get any good talent here unless said talent has little to no say in the matter.

  22. Paul B on January 14th, 2013 9:37 am

    I’m sort of assuming the plan now, as some have alluded to, is that Jaso and Montero share catching until Zunino is ready.

    But that does still leave most of the problems Dave described.

    This is the same problem of roster construction we’ve seen before. Too many players who shouldn’t be playing in the field.

  23. onetreehugger on January 14th, 2013 9:41 am

    I really don’t like carrying a third catcher. I think most teams don’t, and the Mariners have gone many seasons without one, yet very rarely had to use their ‘emergency catcher’. It also seems like a third catcher’s main role is to sit on the bench for long periods filling a roster stop without adding anything.

    The third catcher also seems to end up getting some DH at-bats, and I’m so sick of seeing a DH come up who isn’t even a league-average batter. This DH by committee is fine if you have a committee of good hitters, but when they’re all named Mendoza, it’s really pathetic.

    How about carrying one less relief pitcher so we have another spot open for a back-up position player?

    In fact, whoever our fifth starter is may be so bad that we could just not have one, forfeit every fifth game, carry an extra position player, and get everyone an extra day’s rest.

  24. Badbadger on January 14th, 2013 9:46 am

    My view on the Jason Bay signing is that the M’s are just hoping to catch a miracle, but that there is very little chance of him making the team.

  25. RaoulDuke37 on January 14th, 2013 9:59 am

    Or ‘How to squeeze 72 wins out of a 68 win roster’.

  26. Gibbo on January 14th, 2013 10:00 am

    Reminds me of having Griffey and Sweeny on the same team. As someone alluded to earlier, Bay is just a shot in the dark to see if we can catch lightening in a bottle. So I don’t believe he ends up making the roster so that’s one free spot for an acquisition of a better hitting OF’er.

  27. wetzelcoatl on January 14th, 2013 10:02 am

    OK, everyone who is complaining about the 3rd catcher thing. Most teams don’t carry 3 catchers because they don’t have 2 catchers that the want in the lineup every day, the M’s do, when you add in the fact that neither Montero or Jaso is really an everyday catcher to begin with the M’s could probably use a 3rd catcher. I think the better way to think about it might be as the M’s have Jaso as the starting catcher and Montero as the Starting DH and really what they need is a 2nd catcher, since really whoever they bring in would basically be filling the role filled by the 2nd catcher on teams that have an everyday catcher.

  28. jephdood on January 14th, 2013 10:02 am

    They need a pitcher. Bad. I haven’t seen the M’s linked to Shaun Marcum at all. Isn’t he kinda the best still available in FA?

  29. bookbook on January 14th, 2013 10:50 am

    Jaso will end up not getting as much playing time as he deserves, Bay and Thames are likely gone, Montero won’t get as much time as be needs to develop, but Ibanez will play quite a bit of LF.

    This is squeezing 68 wins out of a 72 win roster. (Well, 76 out of a 78 win crew)

  30. don52656 on January 14th, 2013 11:06 am

    I agree with Dave that this is a somewhat useless exercise since the Mariners can’t possibly be done tinkering with the lineup. I would guess that either a trade is in the works which will clarify things somewhat, or the Mariners plan to open the season with an 11-man pitching staff. I am guessing that any trade would be for RF, and Wells/Bay will be competing for the backup spot. That doesn’t explain the Ibanez transaction, however…..

  31. heyoka on January 14th, 2013 11:32 am

    Is Brandon Inge available?

  32. msfanmike on January 14th, 2013 11:46 am

    This is a good breakout of the current reality of the roster as well as the “benefits” of the Ibanez and Bay signings. We have gotten so used to Brendan Ryan being an offensive liability that we just kind of accept it at this point. There is quite a bit of work to be done on the roster in order to provide a reasonable amount flexibility. I hope those efforts eventually leads to us not having to watch Wedge not play his best hitter (Jaso) during an extra inning game.

  33. shortbus on January 14th, 2013 12:04 pm

    The way this team has treated Wells in the past, along with the acquisition of Bay and Ibanez makes me suspect that Wells might just be dealt. If Bay demonstrates he can hit in Spring Training I just have a feeling they’ll platoon him with Ibanez in right, or just let Bay start there period.

    In any case something’s got to give because this roster is currently a mess. We already know Jack isn’t done building it so I look forward to the moves he makes between now and the end of April.

  34. MrZDevotee on January 14th, 2013 12:13 pm

    Oddly, this roster seemed a bit weak as well:

    Al Martin LF
    Mike Cameron CF
    Ichiro RF
    David Bell 3B
    Carlos Guillen SS
    Brett Boone 2B
    John Olerud 1B
    Dan Wilson C

    Bench:
    Tom Lampkin
    Mark McLemore
    Charles Gipson
    Stan Javier

    SPs-
    Freddy Garcia
    Jamie Moyer
    Aaron Sele
    Paul Abbott
    John Halama

    All they did was win the most games ever by a baseball team in an MLB season (okay, tied it).

    Saunders > Martin
    Guty (healthy) > Cameron
    Bourn (?) Bell
    Ryan > Guillen
    Ackley = Boone (w/o ‘roids)
    Morales > Olerud
    Jaso/Montero = Dan Wilson

    Just food for thought.

  35. Celadus on January 14th, 2013 12:13 pm

    Seems like the M’s are putting together a team that would challenge even the most flexible and/or innovative manager, and giving it to one of the least flexible managers.

    What Wedge needs is a roster that doesn’t force him to make a lot of playing time decisions. What this particular roster needs is a manager that isn’t Wedge.

    Hopefully many of these roster problems will be resolved by the end of spring training, but at the very least I am prepared for a season in which I see a lot more of Ibanez than I want to.

  36. MrZDevotee on January 14th, 2013 12:15 pm

    (my above post of roster comparison somehow lost…

    Bourn (?) Ichiro
    Seager > Bell )

  37. MrZDevotee on January 14th, 2013 12:18 pm

    ShortBus-
    You said: “If Bay demonstrates he can hit in Spring Training…”

    In Wells favor, hopefully this would be akin to the Easter Bunny finding Santa Claus’ house during Spring Training.

  38. Celadus on January 14th, 2013 12:18 pm

    Re MrZDevotee:

    I’d like to see the argument that turns Gutierrez into a better player than Cameron. Also, McLemore was an ideal bench player–a decent hitter that could defend multiple positions adequately to outstandingly.

  39. monkey on January 14th, 2013 12:35 pm

    Hate to say it but, I wouldn’t be so sure the M’s won’t start the season at 70 million. They just might, I don’t really care what the brass is saying, because they can and will lie.

    This team as is currently comprised simply makes no sense from a bunch of different angles. Unless we get some help from the farm, (we have a couple pitchers who possibly oculd help, and who knows, maybe the catcher wedrafted last year? Probably not…), we’re in for another VERY long, bad season of M’s baseball.

    Which brings me to the point of why I wrote this.
    Why is Eric Wedge still the manager? For that matter, why are pretty much ANY of the brass still in their positions? They’ve been terrible at thie jobs for years now, if I had been this bad for this long at my job, I’d expect to be fired.

  40. ireportyoudecide on January 14th, 2013 12:41 pm

    Re MrZDevotee

    Wow, those are some rose colored glasses.
    Just using OPS from last year compared to the 2001 Mariners

    C: Wilson .705 Montero .685
    1B: Olerdud .873 Morales .787
    2B: Boone .950 Ackley .622
    SS: Guillen .689 Ryan .555
    3B: Bell .718 Seager .738
    LF: Martin .712 Wells .698
    CF: Cameron .832 Guti .729
    RF: Ichiro .838 Saunders .738
    DH: Edgar .966 Jason .850

    Seriously, Boone, Edgar, Olerud and Ichiro would all be the best hitters on the 2013 Mariners. Unless you were joking, at which point I will say well played, you got me.

  41. eponymous coward on January 14th, 2013 1:13 pm

    Oddly, this roster seemed a bit weak as well:

    Oh, seriously? You’re going to compare this roster with a roster that won 116 games (and the core of which won 90+ games over four years, including the year before coming into spring training with a “weak” roster)?

    First off, your comparisons are kind of off. Mike Cameron was a consistent 5.5 WAR player as a Mariner:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1070&position=OF

    Guti has one year of that level of performance, but he IS consistently on the DL…

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=3255&position=OF

    The whole post is full of crappy logic like that- for instance, John Olerud was a consistent 4 WAR player as a Mariner, even though he was on the downslope of his career:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1093&position=1B

    It’s pretty obvious Kendrys Morales is nowhere near as good a player:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=8610&position=1B/DH

    It’s really, really obvious if you spend more than 5 minutes with Fangraphs and things like WAR which of those rosters is good, and which of those rosters isn’t. It’s pretty obvious where your beliefs lie when it comes to the job Jack Z. is doing, but please, let’s not be ridiculous here. It’s really clear that the M’s roster as it exists today on January 14th is not a 90 win roster, or all that close. They’d have to get very lucky to pull of 90- and there’s more work on the design side to do if GMZ wants to have luck be the residue of that design.

  42. Choo on January 14th, 2013 1:30 pm

    Can the Mariners use the cash they aren’t spending on the roster to help lubricate a trade for Giancarlo Stanton? We know the Marlins like cash, but would it even be enough to make a difference?

  43. DarkKnight1680 on January 14th, 2013 1:40 pm

    Bay will not be with the team after camp. So really, what they need is a guy who can play a decent outfield and can play a decent infield. Or as many would call it, a “Utility” player. The Ms could make a trade offer for someone like Martin Prado or Trevor Plouffe if they actually want talent, or try to pick up Joe Mather or someone like that if they just want a serviceable body.

    It’s easily enough fixed if you just toss Bay overboard.

  44. The_Waco_Kid on January 14th, 2013 2:15 pm

    Everyone has a right to their opinion, but to the people calling this topic trivial: seriously? It’s January, the middle of the NFL playoffs, talk of the Sonics coming back, not much to discuss about the M’s at the moment. I’m curious what a better topic would be.

  45. Typical Idiot Fan on January 14th, 2013 2:24 pm

    What about Ryan Doumit? The Twins seem willing to part with their veteran players. He can’t play third, but he can handle first and right field if needed. As a bonus, he’s a switch hitter.

  46. just a fan on January 14th, 2013 2:35 pm

    So basically, what I gather from this post is that as the roster stands currently, Jack Zduriencik has trouble with roster construction.

    See also, Mike Sweeney and Ken Griffey Jr.

  47. The_Waco_Kid on January 14th, 2013 2:44 pm

    A third catcher is a good idea, particularly Gimenez with his versatility. The team has to make a call on Zunino. If he’s up before July, we can get by with just Jaso and Montero until then. For a whole season, no way.

    If we get another OF (Upton/Kubel/Bourn/etc), signing both Bay and Ibanez will look incredibly stupid. But I bet we’re done with OF and they’ll platoon Wells and Ibanez. Actually, whoever has a bad Spring will be benched, per the Iwakuma Rule.

  48. make_dave_proud on January 14th, 2013 2:46 pm

    “There’s no way they’re going into the season with a $70 million payroll…”

    Dave, I have to ask about this comment, because I don’t get the basis. I understand what ownership said about payroll commitment, but it’s been pointed out before: you can’t make people do something they don’t want to do. It’s mid-January, and the first games in Peoria are in less than 6 weeks.

    My uneducated guess: unless Z pulls off a trade that likely involves a perceived overpay, this roster isn’t going to look much different come ST.

  49. ripperlv on January 14th, 2013 2:47 pm

    I think westside guy hit the nail on the head.

    I think even worse: Ibanez/Bay are going to platoon LF, Gutt CF and Saunders RF and Wells is #4.
    I’m trying to stay positive and give JZ more time, but really, the lineup doesn’t make sense. The rotation is a complete joke. But we do have prospects and we do have money, let’s see if JZ and staff can execute their professional skill set. tick toc tick toc

  50. MrZDevotee on January 14th, 2013 2:56 pm

    Really-
    IReport/Eponymous-
    So you guys seriously thought I meant this roster is better than the 2001 Mariners?

    The only point being (other than roided Boone) that was a successful roster (MOST ever) that featured NO true power hitters, no dominant Ace, and only 2 guys playing All-Star level baseball. And they managed to win more than anyone.

    I mean I’m glad you were able to do a trademark rant off it, Eponymous, but seriously? (read on)

    As for comparisons (I don’t use Fangraphs, sorry)-

    If he’s healthy, Guty is every bit the player Cameron was (as for “take more than 5 minutes” your “Cameron was 5.5 consistently” was wrong– 5.5 once, in his career– 2001– only other 5+ was in Cincy… so “huh?”)”

    Olerud hit the 4+ WAR twice (2001, 2002) as a Mariner, not “consistently”. Morales’ last healthy season was 4 WAR (and end of last season) with .900+ OPS, and he’s still on the upswing.

    “It’s pretty obvious Kendrys Morales is nowhere near as good a player…”

    Uh, no it’s not. Not during the Seattle Olerud years, which is te comparison.

    And I guess you missed the part where I didn’t compare Wilson to Montero? (I’d trade him.)

    I agree about McLemore though. That’s the kinda guy we could really use.

    But, yeah, talk about pushing the envelope of logic…

    A) I didn’t say this team could win 116 games, I made the point no one expected that light hitting, moderate pitching team to do it.

    B) Your emphatic denials (Eponymous) were skewed every bit as much as you thought mine were (I took defense into account too, btw).

    Again though, glad I could launch you into one of your rants– you owe me some serious beers for all the times I’ve allowed you that privilege.

    You obviously enjoy it.

  51. msfanmike on January 14th, 2013 3:26 pm

    Dear Jack:

    Please get us something shiny, new and pretty.

    The natives ^^^ are getting restless.

  52. stevemotivateir on January 14th, 2013 4:28 pm

    ^Apparently you didn’t hear about the new tv screen in the outfield, Mike!

  53. nathaniel dawson on January 14th, 2013 4:50 pm

    This is not as difficult a problem to solve as you make it out to be. All that needs to be done is to sign Scott Hatteberg.

  54. Jordan on January 14th, 2013 6:28 pm

    When was the last time the Mariners entertained when it wasn’t Felix day? I mean aside from Noesi serving up gopher balls? I for one don’t see the roster construction as a problem, because even if every player had clearly defined roles, Wedge would find other roles for them.

    Let Bay play 3b and Raul/Jesus can jobshare 1b etc. At least we’d have the occasional reason to watch aside from Felix.

    This team, as constructed on Jan. 14, is already an embarrassment and having 50 or so innings of defensive liabilities won’t change that!

  55. dirkvdb on January 14th, 2013 8:02 pm

    Excellent analysis. This is why I do not like the current roster. Next year will be more of the same with little or no improvement. Our pitching prospects will improve so that in 2014 we will have a decent pitching staff. But we need 5 good hitters to come from the minor leagues or through trades. I am fed up.

  56. Bryce on January 14th, 2013 9:03 pm

    The only point being (other than roided Boone) that was a successful roster (MOST ever) that featured NO true power hitters, no dominant Ace, and only 2 guys playing All-Star level baseball. And they managed to win more than anyone.

    If you think the 2001 M’s had only two guys playing all star level baseball, you’re nuts. Stan Javier was a bench outfielder that played less than 90 games and wound up with 2.6 WAR. That would have put him third on the 2012 Mariners. There is no comparison between then and now. None. The only player on this roster that’s better than their 2001 counterpart is Seager.

    We can all only hope that this organization someday builds a team anywhere close to as good as the one in 2001.

  57. NRFully on January 15th, 2013 8:52 am

    What about Carlos Triufel? I know he had a very small stint on the major league club last season but he was part of the Sept call ups AND he would fit into a backup infield role. What is in his future and how it fits with us?

  58. stevemotivateir on January 15th, 2013 12:13 pm

    ^Triunfel had 30 errors in Tacoma and had a miserable batting line of .260/.308./.391.

    He has plenty to work on before he should even be considered for a bench job. He’s 22, so he has time, but he’s not looking very good.

  59. Thirteen on January 15th, 2013 2:30 pm

    Hey, what about Alex Liddi for Smoak’s roster spot? He can cover 3B behind Seager, reducing the need for a new utility infielder or a particularly versatile infielder, and he can play first base vs. LHP just as well as Smoak can. Plus he can play emergency outfield. His AAA stats last year were fairly encouraging… why not?

  60. Grayfox3d on January 16th, 2013 3:59 pm

    John Jaso to the A’s, we get Mike Morse… yay… ugh

  61. bongo on January 16th, 2013 7:05 pm

    “Can the Mariners use the cash they aren’t spending on the roster to help lubricate a trade for Giancarlo Stanton? We know the Marlins like cash, but would it even be enough to make a difference?”

    [Bongo] The key word is “lubricate”. Giancarlo Stanton could be a 5 WAR player from 2013-2016. That adds up to a LOT of value — as much as 20 WAR over that period. Given the going rate for WAR, if the lion’s share of the value is to come from cash, you are talking about a VERY large pile of bills. Even if the Mariners were willing to part with that much cash, the Commissioner might not go for it. So only a small fraction of the WAR value would be in cash with the rest to be provided in player value.

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