ZIPS on the 2013 Mariners: They Suck

Dave · January 30, 2013 at 6:59 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Dan Szymborski’s ZIPS projection system is one of the best publicly available forecasting tools available. No system is perfect, and of course teams can perform quite differently than their forecasts — hello, 2012 Orioles — but it’s still important to understand what a good forecasting system expects from a specific group of players. And for most of the Mariners current specific players, ZIPS does not think very favorably.

Focus mostly on the plus and minus stats, as the overall numbers will likely change due to the change in the dimensions affecting how Safeco Field plays. I’d expect most of the hitters to post better numbers, and most of the pitchers to post worse numbers, but all you really should care about is their performance adjusted for league norms and park effects.

For instance, Kendrys Morales is projected for a 115 OPS+, right around what he got last year. That’s not bad. He’d be a roughly league average player when he’s on the field if that forecast is correct, which is about what we pegged him for when the Mariners acquired him. After that, though, the idea of a rejuvenated offense kind of goes away.

Michael Morse is projected for an OPS+ of 103, the same as Kyle Seager and Jesus Montero. ZIPS doesn’t see him aging very well. Meanwhile, the team’s next best projected hitter after Morales and those three — Mike Zunino, who is likely to have a very limited role in the big leagues this year, if he gets there at all. Now, the projection for Zunino is fantastic, calling him a +3 win catcher right now, but that doesn’t do a lot of good for the 2013 Mariners. You should be excited about Zunino’s future, but you were probably already excited about Zunino’s future. That ZIPS likes him a lot as well shouldn’t be a huge surprise.

Behind Zunino, hanging out in the roughly average hitter category, are Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, Mike Carp, Raul Ibanez, Casper Wells, and Michael Saunders. For Ackley, a decent defensive second baseman, this makes him a pretty solid everyday player and the best position player on the team. For the rest, it suggests that they’re marginal role players at best, as an average bat at a corner position isn’t that valuable unless it is paired with elite defense. Wells and Saunders play good enough defense to be useful, but by and large, it thinks most of these guys aren’t good enough to start on a quality MLB team.

And then there’s the pitching. Oh, the pitching.

Again, the superficial numbers might look okay because the environment is based on a park that drastically deflates run scoring, but look at the ERA- numbers, which measure performance relative to park adjusted league average.

Felix has an ERA- of 79. In other words, still an ace. #1 comp is Greg Maddux. Felix is good.

Iwakuma comes in at 100. Solid average starter. About what you should expect.

Erasmo Ramirez comes in at 109, making him an okay #5 starter. I think he’s probably a little better than this, but it’s worth noting that his pedigree has always been about performance over stuff, and even a performance-only forecast isn’t a big fan.

And then the wheels come off. Blake Beavan is forecast for a 121 ERA-, making him a replacement level pitcher. Hector Noesi is at 132, and if he pitched 130 innings, he’d rack up -1 WAR. No Major League team should be okay with either of these guys in their rotation. Right now, the Mariners have both. Noesi is going to be replaced, but Beavan likely isn’t, and the depth behind him just isn’t there. Hultzen (115 ERA-), Paxton (120 ERA-), and Walker (127 ERA-) aren’t ready, and even the more command oriented Brandon Maurer (124 ERA-) is projected as another replacement level arm for 2013. These kids might have a bright future, but it’s not here yet. Expecting them to come in and turn into quality Major League starting pitchers is simply not realistic.

To be a legitimate contender for the playoffs, a team basically needs to compile 40 WAR, and needs more like 45 to 50 to give themselves a good shot at getting in. Just based on the M’s ZIPS projections and their current depth chart, the team comes in around +26 WAR. If you replace Noesi with an average starter, that puts them at +28 WAR. Maybe you bump them up a bit because you like the young bullpen arms more than the projections, so now you’re at +30 WAR. For comparison, the 2012 Mariners posted a total of +28 WAR.

That’s still not a very good team. The offense isn’t as improved as the Mariners are hoping for, and the pitching looks like it could be a total disaster. There’s some reasons for optimism in the forecasts for Zunino, Ackley, Montero, and Brad Miller (forecast to be nearly a league average player right now, which is kind of interesting), but by and large, ZIPS is unimpressed with the imports the Mariners made this winter, and thinks this team would need a few minor miracles to have a shot at contending in 2013.

The Mariners could outperform their forecasts. These aren’t written in stone tablets, of course. But think of this like a weather forecast. Based on the available information, and what we know about historical patterns, the 2013 Mariners don’t look very good. Prepare for a pretty lousy team, just as you would prepare for rain if the weather guy told you a storm was coming. It might not happen, because there are unpredictable variables that can have a real impact on the team’s outcomes, but the most likely outcomes involve the 2013 Mariners being bad.

Happy Wednesday.


81 Responses to “ZIPS on the 2013 Mariners: They Suck”

  1. omahajoe on January 30th, 2013 7:26 am


    Even if one optimistically thinks some of our young hitters will exceed expectations, it appears too big of a hill to climb for the team as a whole.

    I really wish we would’ve addressed the lack of SP depth via free agency or a minor trade. There’s simply not enough arms left on the market to make much of an impact – they are all typical “spring training invite” types.

    We need SP badly. This offense can be adequate, but it won’t be enough if our 3-5 starters are putting us in a 5-0 hole by the 4th inning.

  2. smb on January 30th, 2013 7:29 am

    I don’t see the logic of trading from a position of strength to acquire players that fill a need, if such trades/acquisitions then make a weakness out of what had previously been a strength. Our rotation is embarrassing after Felix, IMO. Maybe it wouldn’t change the projections much, but I feel like the upcoming season wouldn’t be looking quite so bleak to me if we still had Fister. We may have added some offense in the offseason, but what’s the point of improving the offense if it ultimately equates to swinging the pendulum back to the late 90s, with weaker pitching and weaker defense the cost of adding offense? Does everyone miss the feeling of blowing a 4-run lead in the 9th? Is that so much better than losing 1-0 or 2-1?

    I think it’s going to be a long season…

  3. thurston24 on January 30th, 2013 7:38 am

    I’m sorry but the run environment at safeco was so poor that park adjustments would not fully account for the offense. I’m guessing that most of the hitters from last year out perform their projections. However, I’m not surprised about the pitchers. I’m sure hoping that Hultzen, Paxton, and Maurer are ready soon because the Mariners are going to need them.

  4. Utis on January 30th, 2013 7:38 am

    ZIPS also projected the A’s to suck last year. All it takes is for a few players to significantly exceed expectations. In particular, the projections for the big three seem a tad pessimistic. It is possible that one of the three could be a contributor this year (and certainly more useful than Beavan).

  5. Westside guy on January 30th, 2013 7:47 am

    ZIPS predicted most teams very well last year. If you’re going to focus on the one or two outliers and ignore the 25 it nailed… I don’t know what to tell you.

    There’s certainly hope if, as you say, a few players have unexpectedly good years – but don’t reserve any October hotel suites on that hope.

  6. Arron on January 30th, 2013 7:50 am

    I think the Mariners will surprise everyone. If everything goes right, they will be in the 2nd WC hunt…

  7. djw on January 30th, 2013 8:06 am

    If everything goes right, they will be in the 2nd WC hunt…

    Well, yeah. This is also true for all but the worst teams (see, again, Baltimore 2012). The problem is, everything goes right pretty much never.

    This projection shouldn’t surprise anyone; the roster hasn’t been meaningfully improved beyond removing the very worse (Olivo, Figgins). The team has added players of highly dubious value (Ibanez, Morse) and made lateral moves (Morales–Vargas).

    Serious question: Why not re-sign Kevin Millwood?

  8. rth1986 on January 30th, 2013 8:09 am

    The Mariners have clearly swapped out their pitching and defense strengths for offense this season, and haven’t gotten better. It’s too bad how one-dimensional the offensive additions are. While we might come close to a league-average offense this year, we still haven’t replaced Vargas and our outfield defense will probably be the worst it’s been since the Bavasi era. I fully expect the Mariners to be a mid-70s win team if the season started today – so basically the same as last year.

    That being said, I can’t help but think that Saunders, Seager, Ackley and Montero are only going to continue to improve – which these projections hardly suggest. I don’t think it’d shock anyone if any one of those players completely broke out in 2013. Obviously these projection systems aren’t meant to reflect this, but it’s something that needs to be considered for a young team like Seattle.

  9. Dave on January 30th, 2013 8:15 am

    It has Ackley going from +1.5 to +3.4 WAR. It has Montero going from -0.2 to +2.5 WAR. How much more improvement do you think you can reasonably expect?

  10. shamus on January 30th, 2013 8:16 am

    I wouldn’t disagree with the overall ZIPS. We are highly likely to suck because – Mariners!!

    But some projections seem a bit weird – why is Michael Saunders getting worse? Ackley is going to continue to be average or below average with the stick? Similarly Seager isn’t going to improve, nor Montero? Smoak is a huge question mark of course – most likely going to suck, so don’t blame projections for thinking that.

    These projections must have massive error bars, especially for a young team. it would be interesting to see the errors projected at 2s level, and also to see a study/analysis of where/when ZIPS gets it right/wrong and why.

  11. Utis on January 30th, 2013 8:16 am

    It appears that ZIPS is conservative when it comes to young players. Last year, Bryce Harper was projected for an OPS+ of 94 (Mike Morse was projected for 116). By all means, don’t go making any October plans but realize that the potential for upside is there.

  12. Dave on January 30th, 2013 8:21 am

    Bryce Harper had the greatest age 19 season in the history of baseball. You might want to find another example.

  13. ChrisFB on January 30th, 2013 8:27 am

    That being said, I can’t help but think that Saunders, Seager, Ackley and Montero are only going to continue to improve

    It should really be The Plan if they do, actually. This team and this organization was never supposed to get to the postseason because of any high quality, high priced free agents or monster blockbuster trades for premium vets. It’s supposed to be about building from within and turning prospects into cheap, productive, cost-controlled everyday guys with the occasional surprise star.

    The exact guys you mention, plus the young starting pitching, plus the bullpen is supposed to be the core of this team for the next couple years. If the M’s are ever going to contend in the next 3 – 5 years it needs to come from the youngsters. If Z was right on any of them, they need to be stepping up to the next level in the next season or so.

    I’d like to think that with the lateral moves to weed out the worst, or to make room for new young pitching to come in, or even the headscratcher like Morse-Jaso, that just puts more emphasis on the young guys without putting pressure on them. The vets won’t be horrifying but they won’t be the difference makers. 75 wins (last year) should now be a floor, not a ceiling. Ackley, Seager, Saunders, Montero, even Wells or Smoak if they get playing time – these guys are the ones that will be the difference between barely-not-.500 and a surprise 88-win team.

  14. MrZDevotee on January 30th, 2013 8:27 am

    Well, predictive systems like this have no incentive to be optimistic with average (or worse) teams. They’re choosing the most likely outcome, not the best case scenarios. Which is important to recognize. Like Kenpom in basketball. You’ll see the teams you expect at the top and the teams you expect at the bottom. With a couple of outliers that might stand out.

    Teams with gifted talent will be evaluated highly. A team like Seattle with NO overly valuable talents (excepting Felix) will be viewed casually if not pessimistically.

    If this same team played the same season 10 times over, you’d probably be right to predict them low in the standings– but that doesn’t mean that’s what will happen THIS season (a’la 2012 A’s, Orioles, or even Giants).

    The reasons for optimism are many however, when it comes to Seattle. Smoak, Montero, Ackley, Ryan, and Guty could all reasonably be expected to perform better than last season. And that’s BEFORE the park adjustments at Safeco.

    It’s also reasonable to believe that another veteran pitcher will be added to the roster, and take the place of either Beavan or Noesi. And it’s NOT unreasonable to believe that one of the prospect pitchers could break camp with the team if they have a solid preseason (personally I think Maurer might be the guy, as he’s the most polished of the top pitching guys at this point– not as a “can’t miss” guy, but as a guy that’s ready to be a #4 or 5 rotation guy).

    I’m not expecting a World Series by any means, but I think this team will be competitive and fun to watch. And I think it will be a fun year to see which of our young position guys are ready to become everyday MLB talent, and ready to start playing more relaxed with some confidence. I could see Ackley, Seager and Saunders all having their best seasons, with more ceiling to come. Montero should be more comfortable with AL West pitching now, and there’s no denying his offensive numbers were much better when he played behind the plate. Smoak could just as easily go .260 with 26 HR’s as keep struggling. Is that great? No, but it’s a huge step from where he was at last year, and something to build on.

    Both Smoak and Montero have supposedly worked hard to build up their core strength, with increased agility, in the offseason– which should help them at the plate. Remains to be seen of course, but more things that won’t be predicted by something like ZIPS.

    I’m just excited at the prospect of a team that might average 4+ runs a game. That’s not impressive to ZIPS, maybe, but man is it nice to consider as an M’s fan.

  15. kinickers77 on January 30th, 2013 8:30 am

    My 2013 Mariners wish list:

    1 – Ackley takes a major step forward and actually starts looking like a top 10 2B in the league.

    2 – During Spring Training, the M’s deal Smoak for Brian Matusz who turns into a decent #4 for us.

    3 – Morales returns to the player he was before his broken leg. He resigns with the Ms at the end of the season.

    4 – Iwakuma plays like he did in Japan.

    5 – We sign Bourn to a 3-year, $35 million contract. He plays center, Guti moves to right and Morse and Morales take turns at 1B/DH. Morse is also depth at OF.

    6 – We deal Morse at the deadline for Rick Porcello

    7 – The new fences play a huge role in helping Montero, who finally starts turning into the prospect everyone thought he could be. But, by the 2nd half of the season, Shoppach becomes the main C and Montero his backup. Montero becomes the primary DH because Morse is traded and Morales ends up easily handling the full-time 1B gig, which is a major reason the Ms choose to re-sign next offseason.

    8 – Zunino spends the whole season in the minors tearing it up so much that he becomes one of the top 5 prospects to enter the Bigs in 2014.

    9 – Walker follows a similar path as Zunino, ready to come up in 2014 but looking like he’ll be fantastic.

    10 – Hultzen makes the team out of Spring Training and ends up as our solid #3 starter all year.

    11 – Just before the trade deadline, Z sends Paxton, Mauer, Franklin, Saunders and Pryor to Miami for Stanton and Kevin Kouzmanoff.

    12 – Carter Capps makes the team out of ST, dominates, and heads into 2014 as the new closer. Wilhelmsen still legit as the 8th inning setup guy.

    13 – The Ms make an amazing 2nd half run and win a 2nd WC slot. But the confidence, growth and new members take a little time and they make their real run for the WS in 2014.

    Oh, dreaming is fun.

  16. ChrisFB on January 30th, 2013 8:31 am

    ZIPS predicted most teams very well last year. If you’re going to focus on the one or two outliers and ignore the 25 it nailed… I don’t know what to tell you.

    Where can we see one table of ZIPS 2012 for teams? All I can find on a quick search are the exhaustive lists of projections player-by-player. I wouldn’t be surprised if it got most teams right to within a game or two of actual – CAIRO 2012 was within a couple game of about 23 – 25 teams – but now you have me curious.

  17. rth1986 on January 30th, 2013 8:34 am

    Dave, I think it’s fair to project Montero and Ackley as potential above-average offensive hitters in the near future. Maybe not 2013, but I’d say it’s more likely than not. ZiPS might be projecting an improvement, but I feel like both were relatively unlucky last year.

    I’ll be totally fine if both are merely league-average hitters next year though.

    On a side note, it was interesting seeing the extremely similar projections for Ibanez, Carp and Thames. Again, I’d much rather give another shot to Carp or Thames than have Ibanez and his leadership. Carp or Thames could very likely become another Morse.

  18. thurston24 on January 30th, 2013 8:38 am

    It appears that Zips is assuming the the offense will be pretty poor, to the point of underestimating it. Also, some of the defensive adjustments are off, like projecting Michael Saunders for a negative fielding despite moving from center field to right. I think it’s likely that as a whole, the Mariners outperform these projections. They aren’t going to the playoffs but they are better than Zips believes.

  19. PackBob on January 30th, 2013 8:40 am

    It’s the rebuild gamble. Smoak, Ackley, Montero — these are the guys brought in by Jack to be the core of the Mariners team. Zunino down the road and Seager a surprise.

    They have a lot going for them this year. The fences coming in should be a psychological benefit. The team has stuck with them. They know what to expect. Wedge is 110 percent (silly) behind them. The farm system is rated 2nd best in baseball, with good pitching possibly on the way.

    This is the year we find out if Jack and his scouts chose their players well. If they rise to their projections, the team will out-perform ZIPS. If not, a long season.

  20. Jay R. on January 30th, 2013 8:42 am

    Utterly unsurprising. I do have a quandary though- have an acquaintance flying through Seattle for the Baltimore series, and wants to go to a game. This team doesn’t deserve my time, and the ownership certainly doesn’t deserve my money. What to do?

  21. kinickers77 on January 30th, 2013 8:50 am

    @Jay R.

    It’s still baseball. Go for the love of the game and the love of your team, even if you don’t like the decisions they’ve made.

  22. kinickers77 on January 30th, 2013 8:52 am

    “According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, Joe Saunders has a two-year offer on the table from an unidentified team.
    Connolly notes that none of his sources are directly involved with the negotiations. Speculation is that the offer is worth around $15 million and isn’t from the Orioles. The Twins and Mariners are among the other teams who have been linked to Saunders in recent weeks.”

    I bet it’s the Ms. *Sigh*

  23. bookbook on January 30th, 2013 8:56 am

    Go to a game with your friend and enjoy it.

    The M’s had a pretty bad offseason, but we still should admire the effort to build a top farm system, featuring 5or 6 top 100 prospects.

  24. Utis on January 30th, 2013 8:59 am

    Bryce Harper’s season for the ages could not reasonably be predicted by any backward looking prediction system but that’s just the point. Just as with the stock market, past performance is no guarantee of future performance (though it is the best we can do). It would be nice to have a system that could identify likely breakout, comeback, or collapse season candidates. Think of it as a volatility component attached to the projection. I theorize but can not prove that younger teams (O’s A’s last year) would have more volatile projections. Likewise, teams with players coming off injuries would tend to be more volatile.

  25. make_dave_proud on January 30th, 2013 9:02 am

    The bigger picture here is that the Mariners are closer to being a bad team than a good team. If a good team is around 90 wins, and a bad team is around 60 wins, the Mariners are obviously tilted toward bad.

    Given the way the team is constructed, the greatest opportunity to see any performance exceeding projection is in the offense. The pitching won’t be better than it has been in the recent past, and the defense isn’t gaining either. So, we’re down to hoping for upside in hitting and scoring runs.

    This is not a wager I’d be ready to jump on.

  26. bookbook on January 30th, 2013 9:04 am

    It is my belief that between Romero, Miller, Franklin, and Zunino, one player will exceed expectations and contribute materially in the second half. Similarly, between Maurer and the big three there will be some better starting pitching in Seattle this year than a simple projection might guess. I’d still take Casper+ for Porcello, since we won’t use Casper much.

  27. nickwest1976 on January 30th, 2013 9:10 am

    I have been saying all winter that the starting pitching is a bigger concern to me than the offense. Sure the offense needed upgrades but I felt like guys like Ackley/Montero/Smoak had room to improve and with the additions of Morales and Morse we have an offense that should be better.

    The rotation is a joke behind Felix and Iwakuma. Why the M’s didn’t make a run at Edwin Jackson I will never understand and even now there are still some arms out there like Capuano that should be available via trade.

    The Fister and Morrow deals look even worse right now than they did when they happened. We have basically nothing to show for those two trades…wouldn’t it be nice to have Felix-Morrow-Fister-Iwakuma in the rotation?

  28. eponymous coward on January 30th, 2013 9:14 am

    Who here is surprised that the reactions of the True Faithful to a projection system that doesn’t like the 2012 Mariners (that also has no emotional investment in the Mariner W-L record in terms of being a fan) is “well, here’s all the special pleading as to why the 2012 Mariners will be a special unique snowflake of awesomeness”?

    FWIW, ZIPS didn’t like the 2010/2011/2012 Mariners either (go ahead and dig in the USSM archives for that). Now, maybe this is the year the projection system is wrong (it’s a projection system, not reality). But if your reaction to data that doesn’t confirm your preconceptions is to reject the data, go ask President Mitt Romney how that’s worked out for him.

  29. MrZDevotee on January 30th, 2013 9:20 am

    Reason for optimism on Montero–

    His stats away from Safeco last year:


    I’ll take that.

    (Having been to fanfest this past weekend, the most obvious positive about the new dimensions is not that the fences came in so much as the hand-operated scoreboard is no longer part of the left field fence (it’s gone). So the left field fence is a standard (guessing) 8′ or so tall now. Much more reachable. Montero’s gotta love that, even if he’s not a dead pull RH bat. Shoppach will love it. Morales from that side. Smoak will. It’s gonna make a difference confidence wise.

  30. MrZDevotee on January 30th, 2013 9:22 am

    Great offering Eponymous– very “Vetted Coach-ish”. If your pessimism needs some fueling, you’ve picked the right team to follow.

    That’s gotta be comforting.

  31. eponymous coward on January 30th, 2013 9:32 am

    Great offering Eponymous– very “Vetted Coach-ish”.

    I’m not the one doing a bunch of special pleading on why we need to ignore an indicator that says the team spent the 2012-2013 offseason treading water in terms of their talent base.

    Overall, I’m fine with that- the team is what it is, this is an indicator, we actually play the games in 2013 and then we see what happens.

    I spent time going to games in the 1980′s. How about you?

  32. stevemotivateir on January 30th, 2013 9:42 am

    This wasn’t a surprise by any means, especially given the way the rotation looks right now. I’m hopeful Ramirez will turn out ok, but it’s really hard to cut excuses for Beavan, and just mentioning Noesi as a starter makes it difficult to keep a straight face. There’s a whole lotta potential for trouble with the rotation.

  33. currcoug on January 30th, 2013 9:51 am

    “If you’re going to focus on the one or two outliers and ignore the 25 it nailed… I don’t know what to tell you.”

    ZIPS predicted the odds were good that the 2012 A’s would lose 100 games…I don’t know how anyone can ignore a whiff that bad, especially in our division.

  34. MrZDevotee on January 30th, 2013 9:54 am

    Been going since 1977… Hadn’t missed an opening day until 2010 (was out of town). Seen losing, seen winning- always enjoyed the team.

    I just have the same attitude you have towards people who think this is a 70 win team.

    We’re coming off a year where other than Seager, Jaso and Saunders, to a man our team had historically bad seasons offensively.

    And yet we got better by record. No reason not to believe we can improve on what happened last year, if we can shore up the rotation (which I believe we will).

    Bottomline, if we don’t win 80 games this year, I’ll be disappointed. If we only win 70 I won’t be shocked.

    If that deserved your ridicule, fine.

    And I’ll proudly where your sarcastic “True Faithful” label. Till the end. And who knows, maybe when/if we start winning you’ll hop on board too?

  35. ChrisFB on January 30th, 2013 10:00 am

    Um, Coward, are you reading the same comments I am? There’s a fair amount of “well, sink-or-swim time for the crop Z brought in or hand-picked” in here.

    Some people have their rose-colored glasses on, true, but I think there’s just as many people who are saying that if this 2013 team specifically, and the M’s in general, are going to do well that it’s going to have to be the young kids that have been brought in or brought up here.

    It’s not really disputing ZIPS one way or the other… more just saying that if the team is going to be that Orioles-style surprise, it’s going to come from Z’s Kids. And if ZIPS is spot-on, then Z’s rebuilding plan is taking longer than expected, or just flat not working.

  36. roosevelt on January 30th, 2013 10:05 am

    Unhappy news for the “Hope Springs Eternal Crew”.

  37. ivan on January 30th, 2013 10:06 am

    “Bryce Harper had the greatest age 19 season in the history of baseball. You might want to find another example.”

    Mel Ott says hello.

  38. IllinoisMsFan on January 30th, 2013 10:31 am

    Cool. Now I don’t have to waste any time watching or following the M’s this season. Thanks, ZIPS!

  39. MKT on January 30th, 2013 10:53 am

    Those ZIPS numbers simply confirm what a number of us have been feeling all off-season: the Mariners’ trades and acquisitions have been distinctly underwhelming. Ibanez? Adding Morales is nice, losing Vargas will hurt. It’s the epitome of treading water, rather than progressing.

    We have to hope that the Mariners will make at least one more semi-major move to improve the roster, because what they did this off-season was ho-hum.

  40. maqman on January 30th, 2013 11:11 am

    ZIPS are less reliable than a weather forecast, in this case by a bunch.

  41. Westside guy on January 30th, 2013 11:31 am

    You know what – I found one of the ZIPS-based 2012 team projections, and there are more outliers than I remembered seeing before. So I stand corrected:

    Of course, most of the obvious outliers were the teams that no one of any outlook saw coming – e.g. Baltimore and Oakland doing well, Boston tanking.

  42. heyoka on January 30th, 2013 11:34 am

    “Bryce Harper had the greatest age 19 season in the history of baseball. You might want to find another example.”

    Mel Ott says hello.

    Dwight Gooden says GTFO!

  43. coasty141 on January 30th, 2013 11:38 am

    Man, trading Felix sure seems like it would make a lot of sense.

  44. djw on January 30th, 2013 11:53 am

    Great offering Eponymous– very “Vetted Coach-ish”.

    In fact, the post by Eponymous Coward was exactly the opposite of a “Vetted Coach” offering. Our dear departed coach demanded that everyone ignore data and evidence, and trust his gut. EC is saying, Let’s stop with the special pleading and gut feelings and take dispassionate systematic analysis a bit more seriously. It just about everyone else in this thread–who is insisting that plausible positive scenarios are not just plausible but likely–who bear a family resemblance to the offerings of Mr. Coach.

    ZIPS are less reliable than a weather forecast, in this case by a bunch.

    ZIPS have published projections for many years. You can go check them against actual results. Did you do that, or did you casually dismiss a projection system because it doesn’t fit with your preferred level of optimism about this team?

  45. 300ZXNA on January 30th, 2013 12:00 pm

    While 2013 is looking like the highlight may be the resulting draft pick, is it bad to still be optimistic about 2014?

    If Montero and Ackley make the jump predicted by ZIPS, and considering that Hultzen/Zunino/Paxton may be ready for fulltime by 2014 with Walker and Franklin having an outside shot as well, isn’t the team still in a decent spot in the big picture? I know the flameout rates for pitchers is high, which is why I say decent, but in the minority chance that all three make it, this looks to be a pretty good team, and that is before any FA additions.

    To the M’s credit, it does appear that they were trying to spend money, but they were rebuffed by the players themselves (with exception of Swisher who it appears the M’s simply weren’t high on though probably should have considering the contract he signed). If we have a successful offseason this coming year and raise payroll with some savvy additions, it seems that 2014 looks to be a pretty interesting year.

    That being said, I will probably be paying more attention to the Seahawk’s offseason than the M’s coming regular season.

  46. r-gordon-7 on January 30th, 2013 12:04 pm

    MrZDevotee wrote:
    Having been to fanfest this past weekend, the most obvious positive about the new dimensions is not that the fences came in so much as the hand-operated scoreboard is no longer part of the left field fence (it’s gone).

    Is the hand-operated scoreboard really to be totally “gone” or will it just be above the yellow line in the newly configured lf fence?

  47. drrew on January 30th, 2013 12:19 pm

    Not sure I buy the significant expected drop in plate appearances for Morales, or the regression for Saunders, that being said, the rotation is in a hell of a lot of trouble at this point, and I’m not sure how much can be expected of this team with the shape it’s in.

  48. nwade on January 30th, 2013 12:24 pm

    I actually hope that some of the rose-colored-glasses folks commenting on this are right. ‘Cuz I’d far rather see the M’s doing well than doing what ZIPS seems to be projecting.

    Honestly, I think that if the M’s don’t, this is the last year of my fandom (at least until _after_ they get into the post-season, when I’ll jump on the bandwagon). I mean, the M’s sucked after 2004. By 2008 it was totally obvious they should have blown it up and started over already. With GMZ and everything that was said early-on, I figured this would be a 3-4 year process before the team was “good” again (not necessarily great, but at least average to above-average). We’ve had 4+ years and although we’re not in the sewer anymore, we’ve only ascended as far as the cellar. I don’t want to come across as totally bitter; but it almost feels like even the USSM & LL crews are getting weighed down with this and some of the hope and fight has been taken out of them. Momentum is kind of carrying us forward, but the spark has dimmed to a dull glow. What do you folks think – am I simply letting my disappointment color my perceptions of the writing at USSM & LL over the last 6 months, or has the atmosphere truly deflated a bit?
    (NOTE: This is not a slam of the authors at all – I’d be hard-pressed to maintain the level of engagement and enthusiasm that they have over these tough years! But everyone has a breaking point…)

  49. smb on January 30th, 2013 12:29 pm

    “11 – Just before the trade deadline, Z sends Paxton, Mauer, Franklin, Saunders and Pryor to Miami for Stanton and Kevin Kouzmanoff.”

    If this or any rough equivalent to this happens, I’m done.

  50. Thirteen on January 30th, 2013 12:33 pm

    For what it’s worth, ZiPS misprojected teams by an average of 8.4 wins each last year.

    It horribly overestimated the Red Sox, Indians, Phillies, Marlins, and Rockies while horribly underestimating the Nationals, Dodgers, Athletics, White Sox and Orioles. The system was wrong about each of these teams by a gap of 10 wins or more. It also seriously overrated the Blue Jays, Cubs, Twins, and Astros while not giving enough credit to the Giants, Reds and Braves.

    For only 13 of 30 2012 teams were the ZiPS projections within 5 wins of correct.

  51. Dave on January 30th, 2013 12:53 pm

    I don’t think you understand what “misprojected” means. If you have an unweighted coin, the forecast for every flip will be 50-50. Each individual outcome is not a “misprojection” by 50%.

    Historically, most teams have generally finished with a range of about +/- eight wins relative to their forecasts. So, a team projected for 75 wins should be expected to fall somewhere between 67-83. That kind of variation is entirely normal, because there are a lot of factors that go into wins and losses that simply can’t be projected ahead of time.

    There’s always an outlier who drastically outperforms or underperforms their projection. Last year, there were a few. Just like there’s always someone who wins the lottery. You do enough tests, and you’re going to get someone at the end of a tail. It’s not a forecasting error. It’s just how distribution of outcomes work.

    So, the fact that ZIPS thinks the Mariners are terrible doesn’t mean that they will definitely be terrible. It means that their range of probable outcomes is slanted towards the losing side of the spectrum, and it will take far more good luck (2012 Orioles style) to result in a 90 win season than it will for a team with a higher talent base.

  52. shortbus on January 30th, 2013 12:56 pm

    I have to say I’m really optimistic about next season. 2014, that is.

    That’s the year so many of our talented players are liable to significantly contribute. Hultzen, Paxton, Zunino, Romero, Franklin, Miller, possibly Walker. When we trade Morse and Morales at the deadline we may add a couple more names to that list. I don’t seriously believe either will sign an extension with us. Hopefully at least one of the two is good enough to trade for a decent prospect.

    2014′s the year our team might actually hit the 90 win mark. If it happens this year it would mean more than one player had an amazing outlier of a year. This year we should find out which of our current youngsters is worth keeping. Then the next round of prospects comes up and we can begin to really fill out a roster with talented, affordable players and add one or two expensive FA’s to complete the picture.

  53. MrZDevotee on January 30th, 2013 1:03 pm

    The scoreboard is gone for good and replaced by a HD video version in left center… And actually directly where the hand operated scoreboard was is now going to be one of Edgar Martinez’s restaurants where you can rest on the rail of the fence with your burrito and beer, and catch a homer. (Sort of an older folks version of the center field bar/cafe. Could be kinda cool.

  54. MrZDevotee on January 30th, 2013 1:28 pm

    Point taken… But my point was really just that holding to a one-sided point of view and belittling the other point of view was very Coach-like. (Sort of how I view Democrats and Republicans– “same shit, different pile”)

    I didn’t see anyone here claiming we’re a sure playoff team and gonna compete for the Division Title. Heck, the lone mention of contending for the 2nd WC berth made me wince a little, and I’m about as optimistic as anyone.

    That said, I DO claim that we’re “likely” to be better than last year, even if we didn’t make a single change to our roster, but not by ignoring facts/data– precisely BECAUSE of facts/data. The majority of our team performed well below their norm last season. So it’s reasonable to expect better. And again, that’s BEFORE the offensive “upgrades” to Safeco. And no matter what folks think about him, Morse is an upgrade over much of what we threw into LF last season.

    We need more pitching, but if we can figure that out I see no reason why we can’t break the 80 win barrier, which is a positive thing in my book.

    I watched a team that lost over 100, watched when we won almost 70, then won 75… I’m certainly not gonna stop watching the team with a chance to get above .500 in wins. I mean, we’re talking about a team that’s had 90+ wins only 5 times since 1977.

    (This really is a half full/half empty glass scenario– so one can choose an angle without needing to belittle the opposite take of the same picture… Otherwise all our comments from top to bottom would need be nothing more than “meh”. That was the only point I was hoping to get across. Eponymous wasn’t adding to the conversation at that point, he was taking a jab at other people’s perspectives. Tat for tat.)

  55. Eastside Crank on January 30th, 2013 1:29 pm

    For me, the most distressing aspect of the Zips projection is that trades for major league players have done little to help the Mariners. Hopefully, a healthy Smoak will actually start hitting this year and Montero will not be a defensive disaster. Apparently the skill set needed to predict success at the major league level is different than that of selecting for minor league success. In addition, the trades since last season seem more like shuffling deck chairs than attempts to produce a quality product.

  56. GhostofMarinersPast on January 30th, 2013 1:36 pm

    Nwade- seriously? That kind of garbage fandom is why the rest of the country sees us as terrible fans. Only “hopping on the bandwagon” when times are good. In Boston they would refer to you as a pink hat. I’m going to invite you to be done now. I’ve been a die hard my whole life and always will be. Through thick and thin. You stick with your team. The last 10 years have sucked. I’m not a fan of the moves we’ve made this offseason and I think I think we are going to be bad again this year. But guess what? I’ll be here next year, with fingers crossed, and a golden trident on my hat.

  57. Spanky on January 30th, 2013 2:07 pm

    I’m sorry but when Z came in…I was very optimistic just by the fact that it was addition by subtraction not having Bavasi destroying the team. I thought Z had a plan he put in motion to emphasize defense and pitching early on while rebuilding the decimated lower levels of the organization. I was expecting some minor steps forward this winter building on the foundation that had been set. However what I’ve seen has been nothing short of a joke. None of it seems to make sense. Maybe I just don’t know and they truly were trying to get other players but couldn’t get them to come to Seattle. But the Jaso trade really impacted my thinking and I’ve now turned on Z. It shouldn’t take a decade to turn around a team. Other teams do it faster than the M’s. Time for new blood.

    There…I feel a little better.

  58. nwade on January 30th, 2013 2:07 pm

    Ghost – I have two reactions to your post (and I understand where you’re coming from):

    1) I moved to Seattle in 1999, and I came from an area where my closest MLB team was the Padres. Suffice it to say that Baseball was not a part of my childhood! But I got here in time for the M’s amazing run, and a new stadium, and it seemed great. I’ve stuck with the team for 13 years, through the good times and into the bad. So don’t think I am simply a short-term “bandwagon-only” fan. My comment was basically that I don’t intend to put myself through torture if the M’s keep churning in last place without improving. Its just not worth it to me to spend my time agonizing over them, until they _after_ start doing better (i.e. their efforts prove to be paying off).

    2) I understand the die-hard fan mentality; and there’s nothing wrong with it. BUT you have to realize you’re in the super-minority. Sports is supposed to be exciting and enjoyable. If it isn’t (for ANY reason – be it wins & losses or the personalities involved or even just personal reasons), then its perfectly acceptable to NOT pay attention. You probably find C-SPAN to be boring and unenjoyable – but applying the logic you implied in your comment, we should all pay attention to it no matter how horrible, because its at LEAST as important in our lives as a baseball game! But human psychology just doesn’t work that way. We all choose our priorities and where we want to expend our emotional energies – and who are you (or I) to judge the “right” or “wrong” of someone’s personal priorities?

  59. ivan on January 30th, 2013 2:09 pm

    “Historically, most teams have generally finished with a range of about +/- eight wins relative to their forecasts. So, a team projected for 75 wins should be expected to fall somewhere between 67-83. That kind of variation is entirely normal, because there are a lot of factors that go into wins and losses that simply can’t be projected ahead of time.”

    Thanks for explaining, Dave. Armed with this understanding, I can ignore ZIPS now without a twinge of conscience.

  60. nwade on January 30th, 2013 2:14 pm

    Ghost – One more thing: I don’t think the rest of the country sees us as terrible fans. There are “bandwagon” folks for every franchise, and they all largely behave the same. And from a business-standpoint: If winning didn’t draw more fans (and thus more revenue), many team owners wouldn’t try to field winning teams! Sure, some of them are going for a championship purely out of ego; but there are business reasons behind the desire to win. Repeated winning seasons will usually build and sustain an ongoing revenue-stream that can last a long time. Repeated losing seasons result in reduced attendance and reduced revenues, as we’ve seen. This is true across the country and across sports – Seattle is not special in this regard.

  61. Dave on January 30th, 2013 2:28 pm

    Ignoring projections because they have a normal range of variance is the height of silliness.

  62. GhostofMarinersPast on January 30th, 2013 2:31 pm

    Well, for starters, anyone reading and/or contributing to the comments section of baseball blog is….yeah, a die hard. You can’t fool me sir. You are one of us, and while you claim that you will allocate your focus elsewhere, you won’t. As for me I have many other interests and diversions. C-SPAN is not one of them. In fact, I don’t know a single person who just kicks back, puts up their feet and gets relaxes with a little C-SPAN. If you do, then I’m the a**hole who is imagining you chain smoking cigarettes that you have lit with wooden matches struck from the callouses on your feet.
    Many sportswriters around the country refer to our fandom as blah. How we really don’t care too much to be bothered. Obviously I don’t agree. But missing the playoffs for 11 straight years will shake off casual fans which leads to decking revenue.

    What are we arguing about again?

  63. nwade on January 30th, 2013 3:09 pm

    Ghost – My calloused feet, apparently! And hey, I’m happy to talk about anything less-depressing than our off-season moves! Well, that and watching Dave point out flaws in the logic of other commenters. You’re right, maybe I will stick around here…

  64. Steve Nelson on January 30th, 2013 3:13 pm

    @ Dave on January 30th, 2013 2:28 pm

    Ignoring projections because they have a normal range of variance is the height of silliness.

    Dave – I think that’s unfairly mischaracterizes what various commenters have said.

    It’s not that they are ignoring projections because they have a normal range of variance. Almost all of them are actually making projections of how they expect the team will perform, incorporating some concept of a normal range of variance into their projections.

    It’s just that they prefer their personal gut-based, unverified and untested projection system to an objective peer-viewed and vetted projection system with known variance.

  65. Mid80sRighty on January 30th, 2013 3:14 pm

    No Dave, the height of silliness is walking around town with your pants below your underwear.

    Ignoring projections because of variance is stupidity, or ignorance if he really doesn’t understand the concepts.

  66. Steve Nelson on January 30th, 2013 3:20 pm

    Utis on January 30th, 2013 8:59 am

    I theorize but can not prove that younger teams (O’s A’s last year) would have more volatile projections. Likewise, teams with players coming off injuries would tend to be more volatile.

    The concept was core in the thinking of the Bavasi regime. That was part of what led them to acquire Spezio, Aurilia, and Vidro, among others. There is as much volatility in veterans as there is in young players. But the volatility for veterans is probably more on the downside than the upside.

    But think twice before you say “Aha”, because those trends are already incorporated into ZIPs. ZIPs assumes young players will get better and older players will get worse. And it bases those assumptions on normal variances of those types. And the variances in those rates simply becomes part of the normal variance in ZIPs projections that Dave mentions above.

  67. Choo on January 30th, 2013 3:27 pm

    Is anybody else getting a strong 2005 vibe?

    - Four-headed turd (Franklin/Piniero/Meche/Sele) and a strong bullpen.
    - Ibanez & Morse combined for 948 PAs (currently projected for about 920).
    - M.Saunders =average(R.Winn,J.Reed).
    - Debut of awesome rookie pitcher (Felix!).
    - 69 wins (currently projected for 67+).
    - Much, much more.

    But hey, no Scott Spiezio! Yet.

  68. eponymous coward on January 30th, 2013 3:49 pm

    That said, I DO claim that we’re “likely” to be better than last year, even if we didn’t make a single change to our roster, but not by ignoring facts/data– precisely BECAUSE of facts/data. The majority of our team performed well below their norm last season. So it’s reasonable to expect better. And again, that’s BEFORE the offensive “upgrades” to Safeco. And no matter what folks think about him, Morse is an upgrade over much of what we threw into LF last season.

    You know, I’d normally point out that projection systems like ZIPS actually incorporate data like past performance here (in a more systematic way than “I’m a Mariners fan and I like GMZ and being optimistic in January, so I’m going to give his team the benefit of the doubt when it comes to talent evaluation over a projection system”), or that Dave actually pointed out things like “I’d expect most of the hitters to post better numbers, and most of the pitchers to post worse numbers, but all you really should care about is their performance adjusted for league norms and park effects.”

    But that would be me taking a jab at perspectives, and we all know that all perspectives are equally valid during Spring Training, given that all teams are tied for first place going into Opening Day.

  69. ivan on January 30th, 2013 4:04 pm

    “Ignoring projections because they have a normal range of variance is the height of silliness.”

    Any schmuck on some radio talk show can give you a projection with that wide a variance. Stop pretending that this is some esoteric knowledge.

    I have been reading Szymborski’s stuff for 15 years or more, back to the days on Usenet, so don’t tell me I don’t understand it. I repeat, it can be ignored. It has a predictive value of greater than zero, to be sure.

    It’s not saying the Mariners suck, anyway. It’s predicting them for between 67 and 83 wins. Fair enough. Dave is the one who says that sucks. That’s his value judgment, and he’s certainly entitled to it. But it’s a value judgment, not a product of statistical analysis.

    An improvement, any improvement, over last year’s win totals would be something more than sucking. ZIPS allows for this. It projects up to 83 wins, right? Most people would consider breaking .500 something other than sucking, and I’d venture to say that goes for most people here.

    That’s why I can ignore ZIPS. It tells me nothing I don’t already know. If some of you think that’s “silly,” that’s your problem and not mine.

  70. MrZDevotee on January 30th, 2013 5:49 pm

    Thanks for sparing me having to face reality, Eponymous (ZIPS is reality, right?). Very thoughtful.

  71. Celadus on January 30th, 2013 6:00 pm

    If any of you had read a list of the offseason moves by the Mariners but possessed no other information about the club, would you suspect that Z. had been fired and Wedge was now the general manager?

    Kind of looks like it to me.

  72. Mathball on January 30th, 2013 6:14 pm

    Strangely the projections fill me with some hope. I look at Montero, Ackley and some of the young ones getting better (except Seager, hmmm). Also with the offense, if somebody isn’t getting the job done it will be easier to shift some of the other bats around, so we shouldn’t have any negative WAR this year. (Assuming Wedge doesn’t dig his heels in for struggling vets).

    Also what we are really hurting for, starting pitching, there are answers. Sure it would be money and maybe us going over budget, but if I was Z and I saw these ZIPS I’d call Lohse’s agent then Saunder’s agent and just get it done. With those two and not Beaven and Noesi, we should improve by six wins. Both can be easily traded if and when we need to. Maybe Z does a trade instead,

    And what it says about Zunino is very exciting along with some of the other AAA players, that they are close.

    So while the M’s project to be about 75 wins, the FO should be able to look at that and make a difference before the season starts. Maybe not a playoff team, but an enjoyable one. Just don’t trade the bright future to do it.

  73. just a fan on January 30th, 2013 6:32 pm

    What a bold projection. The Mariners are likely to be below .500 unless a lot of their younger players improve. Also, they have some big question marks in the rotation.

    I’m glad Dave and ZIPS has provided all of us the certainty that the M’s suck and suck something terrible. ZIPS was only off by 10 wins or more on 10 out of 30 teams last year. That’s 67% within a wide variation of error! I guess I can quit being optimistic!

    I can’t wait to see somebody come along and pedantically inform me of the corrected statistical wording for the obvious meaning of my statements too.

  74. bookbook on January 30th, 2013 6:45 pm

    Optimists dwell on the Brad Miller projection. Not only is he outside of the M’s top five prospects on almost every list, but MLB didn’t list him among their top 100. Zips (and John Sickels FWIW) feels differently.

    Between Seager, Ackley, Franklin, Miller, and the excellent defensive Ryan there’s some real potential competition in the M’s middle infield moving forward.

  75. djw on January 30th, 2013 7:04 pm

    But my point was really just that holding to a one-sided point of view

    Taking a well-designed projection system seriously isn’t “one-sided.” It’s middle-sided. It’s entirely plausible, as many have exhaustively pointed out, that this team could be better than that projection. But it’s also possible–probably roughly equally so–that the team could be notably worse.

  76. djw on January 30th, 2013 7:20 pm

    That said, I DO claim that we’re “likely” to be better than last year, even if we didn’t make a single change to our roster, but not by ignoring facts/data– precisely BECAUSE of facts/data. The majority of our team performed well below their norm last season. So it’s reasonable to expect better.

    Everything you say here is taken into account by any decent projection system, so none of these concerns would be a reason to be suspicious that the projection system is underrating the team. As Dave pointed out, ZIPS is assuming major steps forward for Montero and Ackley and they’re still coming in at 26 WAR.

    And again, that’s BEFORE the offensive “upgrades” to Safeco.

    To be sure, in the long run, I think moving the park closer to neutral may well help the team, in terms of developing hitters, and convincing hitters to sign or re-sign with the team. But in terms of the personnel they’ve got, the change in the dimensions very likely to be neutral. The assumption that the changes will somehow help our hitters considerably more than it will hurt our pitchers makes very little sense; I’ve certainly never seen it coherently defended.

    And no matter what folks think about him, Morse is an upgrade over much of what we threw into LF last season.

    Casper Wells had a 1.2 WAR in considerably less playing time than Michael Morse, who provided .3 WAR. The claim that he’ll be an improvement depends on him returning to 2010-2011 levels of offensive production, because otherwise he gives back pretty much all his value with his atrocious defense, as he did last year. The assumption that he’s definitely a noticeable upgrade in LF is precisely the kind of blinkered optimism that projection systems help us avoid: maybe, despite being over 30, Morse will return to his offensive prime, and maybe his defensive shortcomings will be minimized by the field’s configuration and his fellow outfielders, but to assume this is the most likely scenario would be bad forecasting.

  77. djw on January 30th, 2013 7:24 pm

    I’m certainly not gonna stop watching the team with a chance to get above .500 in wins.

    Where is this coming from? Who said anything about not watching? I’ll plunk down for extra innings and watch, and hope for the best, like I always do and like I’ve done with much, much more hopeless M’s teams. Being a realist doesn’t mean giving up or ignoring the team.

  78. MrZDevotee on January 30th, 2013 8:28 pm

    But singling out Casper Wells’ stats to compare to Morse doesn’t take into account the negative of Robinson, Peguero, Carp, and anyone else we hid out there.

    (Nor does it take into account that most of his value was in CF– Morse and Wells played roughly the same number of games in LF– Morse played 10 more– and while Wells’ Total Zone Runs Above Average was -3, Morse’s was +5. Range factor was- Wells 1.9, Morse 1.5.. So, closer than you might think.)

    For whatever reason, Wells was the OF version of Jaso in Wedge’s eyes so it’s not like a full season of Wells was realistic either.

    But hey, with any luck, Wells will be the guy sharing time with Morse (and Saunders and Guty)… And the improvement in LF will be even greater compared to last. Although with LOTS of luck, Bourn, Guty and Saunders are our outfield, with Morse and Morales sharing 1B/DH.

    I’m not going to deny ZIPS takes into account way more than the average fan, but I’m not going to throw out the idea that our team is likely to perform better than last year offensively, and hopefully will fix our rotation deficiencies before the season starts– so I’d still expect us to be near 80 wins, and I’m hopeful of ending the season over .500.

    I don’t know why this seems unreasonable to expect (with or without an appreciation of ZIPS)? Especially when it falls within the range of plausibility ZIPS offers.

    PS- Admittedly, the “stop watching the team” comment wasn’t aimed at you, so wasn’t fair. My bad.

  79. The_Waco_Kid on January 30th, 2013 9:17 pm

    Are we really done? I thought the point of the Vargas-Morales trade was that it would be easier/cheaper to sign a SP than a slugger. Otherwise, it was stupid to trade Vargas given how thin our rotation is, unless they’re punting on 2013 and waiting for the Big 4 to emerge next year. We shouldn’t depend on very young pitchers and/or bargain bin vets for 3 rotation spots.

  80. djw on January 30th, 2013 9:45 pm

    While I doubt anything will change with position players, I do assume the team will likely add between 1.5-3 expected WAR to the rotation before the season starts. At a bare minimum, offer Millwood a contract, for Allah’s sake. If this front office can’t find a cheap way to shore up the rotation…well, I lost a lot of faith in them with the Morse trade, but there’s still a fair bit more to lose. The necessity here seems pretty clear, and the task doesn’t seem that difficult.

  81. jjracoon on February 2nd, 2013 8:38 am

    ZIPS aside, what the Mariners have is what they have. So does this increase the chance of one of the young pitchers making the team out of spring training?? Granted Z may get someone else but the feeling is that two someones are needed. Once you get by Felix, Iwakuma and Ramirez it seems wide open. Are Walker, Hultzen, Maurer and Paxson worse than Beaven and Noesi or just less experienced at this point????

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