Why I Don’t Care Too Much About The Opening Day Roster

Dave · March 18, 2013 at 8:04 am · Filed Under Mariners 

I spent the last week and a half or so in Phoenix, bouncing between the SABR Analytics Conference, the WBC, Cactus League match-ups, and our FanGraphs staff weekend. During those 11 days, I found myself in a number of conversations about which players were going to make the opening day roster. With one exception, my overall opinion is that it just doesn’t really matter.

On one hand, the “competition” for the final two spots in the rotation is kind of silly. There’s a pretty good case to be made that Erasmo Ramirez is the Mariners second best starting pitcher, and the idea that they might begin the year with him in Triple-A is the kind of thing that is easy to mock, especially considering the competition. The idea that a Major League team is having trouble deciding whether they are better off with Ramirez or Blake Beavan in the rotation is kind of sad. But, at the same time, when talent gaps are as large as they are between those two, bad decisions are usually temporary.

Even if the Mariners decide to go with a Beavan/Garland combo in the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation to start the year, it won’t take long before one of three things inevitably happens:

1. Either Beavan or Garland (or both) will pitch poorly and the team will start looking for a replacement, with Ramirez being the very obvious guy to get their spot.

2. A member of the starting rotation will get injured, opening the door for Ramirez to step into the role he should have been given all along.

3. Beavan and Garland will pitch better than expected, and the cost of choosing an inferior pitcher over Ramirez will be negligible.

You’re just not going to see the Mariners let those two guys throw 100 terrible innings before making the switch. They might not even get 25. If either one struggles out of the gates, they’ll be on a very short leash, and the overall effect is likely that Ramirez will cede ~20 to 30 innings to a pitcher who isn’t as good. Even if we’re very high on Ramirez and very low on Beavan and Garland, the maximum gap you can project is probably something in the range of one run per nine innings pitched. Over ~30 innings, you’re looking at less than half a win. Having the wrong starter in the rotation for April would be annoying, but it wouldn’t be catastrophic.

And that’s why I’m okay with Garland making the team, even if he’s probably not a particularly good pitcher anymore. Pitching depth is important. The Mariners don’t have much, despite the hype around “the big three/four”, and if Garland gives them even 100 useful innings this year, it’s an improvement over the alternatives. I’m less okay with Beavan getting a spot over Ramirez when there’s no real reason to prefer a guy who is just clearly worse, but again, if we’re right about the talent gap, that mistake won’t last long. A decision to choose Beavan over Ramirez might be one that signifies that the people deciding who makes the rotation might not be the right people to lead the team long term, but the actual move is likely not one that will have a major impact on the team in either the short term or the long term.

I see this year’s rotation question as not that different from last year’s 3B/LF decision. Chone Figgins and Mike Carp were both inferior players to Kyle Seager, but because of the team’s desire to squeeze whatever blood they could from that turnip, Seager found himself on the bench for opening day. That was dumb. That also lasted all of one day, as Carp’s injury in game one opened the door for Seager to become a regular and Figgins lost his job as soon as Carp got back. Even if the team picks two worse pitchers than Ramirez to start the fourth and fifth games of the season, my guess is that the alignment won’t last long, and Ramirez will be in the rotation when it becomes painfully obvious that their best team involves him starting every fifth day.

The one battle where there actually is some long term impact for the franchise is in the outfield. It’s basically a given at this point that the Mariners are going to keep Jason Bay, which will necessitate trading Casper Wells, since they’ve decided to punt a roster spot just to have Raul Ibanez serve as Mike Sweeney 2.0. In a vacuum, I don’t have a problem with giving Bay a shot to resurrect his career. If he gets a majority of his at-bats against lefties, I wouldn’t be shocked if he was a semi-useful platoon guy. He’s got a decent approach at the plate and might actually get on base enough vs LHPs to justify some playing time.

But, of course, the odds that he’s actually a better player than Wells right now are slim to none, and keeping Bay means that Wells is going to get dumped. And that’s just silly. With Franklin Gutierrez‘s continuing inability to play regularly, having extra outfielders who can handle CF is a significant advantage. Punting a guy who can play CF would be weird even if Bay was demonstrably better than Wells, which he isn’t. It’s especially weird for a team that is still building for the future, because whatever value the Mariners think Bay might bring to the team is going to be short lived, while Wells is a 28-year-old with some theoretical upside who isn’t anywhere close to free agency. One of these two make sense for a team with a brittle CF, and one of these two make sense for a young team that probably won’t contend for a playoff spot this year. That one is likely to end up on the Astros, Mets, Yankees, or some other team that recognizes that Wells is a useful role player and picks him up for a song. That’s going to be frustrating, and will make the organization worse long term.

But the pitching stuff? That probably doesn’t really matter all that much. If the M’s pick Beavan and Garland over Ramirez, it will be dumb, but probably won’t move the needle in a meaningful way. It will be more evidence that the talent evaluators in charge shouldn’t really get the benefit of the doubt anymore, but in terms of wins and losses, it’s probably not worth having any kind of extreme reaction to.

Comments

53 Responses to “Why I Don’t Care Too Much About The Opening Day Roster”

  1. Longgeorge1 on March 18th, 2013 9:07 am

    The management of this team is not dumb – they are businessmen so they just appear to be dumb. If it was my decision not even Saunders would have a lock on a rotation spot. I like Erasemo and think that Beaven looked really good against an A/AA lineup. We already knew he was a good minor leaguer. Garland is the guy I might gamble on if his stuff looks good in person as we know he knows how to pitch. Who thy keep might not effect wins as much as we think but it will effect my outlook and desire to buy tickets in Seattle. I might just go see the Rainers and the real M,s

  2. BillH on March 18th, 2013 9:13 am

    It bothers me that the Jason Bay thing doesn’t bother you that much.

  3. Sodomojostrikesback on March 18th, 2013 9:25 am

    Experience doesn’t leave me with as much faith in opening day rosters mean nothing. Didn’t they let Noesi throw just under 100 TERRIBLE innings last year? Garland and Beavan would have to work at it to be that bad.

  4. Dobbs on March 18th, 2013 9:49 am

    Clearly the minor moves are just a representation of the larger moves that have already been made and an indication of future ones.

    Time for a FO change.

  5. Seatt101 on March 18th, 2013 10:09 am

    I am at loss why you have posted this note albeit I understand that you are entitled to your view as we all are? The Mariners have been awful for many a year and there have been few excuses but this spring, and I realise I may be in the minority if other bloggers agree with you, I have felt very positive about the team and with some of the youth that has been drafted by the “talent evaluators” you deride.
    Maybe you know more about baseball than me and are will be proven to be right but any sense of enthusiasm about the upcoming season is tempered by the sense that I feel you want Beavan and Garland to fail.
    Go follow the A’s, Angels, Rangers and Astros if that is your view – I follow the Mariners and in a less than perfect world I accept what we have in the hope that at some point in time the players will get better and so might the team.
    You may feel I am a poor talent evaluator too as might other bloggers but I hope Beavan and Garland come good for their own sake and ours too.
    As for Wells and Bay why dont we wait and see what happens first before we conclude the FO dont know jack!
    Despite the tone of my note I really enjoy this site and your comments but I am a baseball fan first and foremost, not a scout,sabermetric guru and long term talent evaluator.

  6. Hutch on March 18th, 2013 10:10 am

    I keep hoping that our intrepid local beat reporter who shall remain nameless is off base and just projecting his old school gritty intangibles veteran fetish, but I’m also starting to resign myself to Casper Wells OPSing .800 platooning for the Tigers. What a shame. I wonder if they’re hoping Bay performs well enough to be flipped at the deadline for something more useful than Wells?

    This would all be moot if it wasn’t for Ibanez 3.0.

  7. californiamariner on March 18th, 2013 10:20 am

    I understand the logic here and I agree that talent wins out in the end. However, shouldn’t we want the best players playing the most games possible? I know playoffs aren’t likely, but I’m not going to give up on the idea until they’re out of it.

  8. Kazinski on March 18th, 2013 10:23 am

    The reason Wells is a lock to stay with the Mariners is because Bay, Ibanez, Morse, and Morales are all on one year contracts. We still have an option for Gutierrez in 2014, but if he can’t stay healthy I can’t see us exercising it.

    So if we get rid of Wells, and Guti doesn’t stay healthy here are the outfielders available for 2014:

    Saunders.

    The minor leagues are bare, below Saunders the depth chart looks like:

    Liddi
    Peguero
    Thames
    Stephan Romero (AA)
    Francisco Martinez (AA)

    Wells may not be a potential Allstar, but he is young under team control until 2017 and can play centerfield.

    It might make more sense to try to trade Ibanez back to the Yankees, or some other team that needs a quality LH bat off the bench who can play some outfield and 1st base in a pinch.

  9. dnc on March 18th, 2013 10:23 am

    Seatt101: I understand you might be new around here, but the “you don’t think player x is very good, guess that means you hope he fails” mentality is both really played out and completely inaccurate. It always amazes me how homer Mariner fans think Dave roots against the team while the nationwide fanbase at Fangraphs thinks that Dave is a raging M’s homer.

    People see what they want to see, I guess.

  10. PackBob on March 18th, 2013 10:31 am

    Wedge’s personal intangibles seem very important to him as a manager. From that look in the eyes to professional ABs to veteran presence, if a player has the intangibles that Wedge likes, it appears to trump talent and what kind of fit a player would be for the team.

    What bothers me is that I want to see the best players playing for the Mariners, and that won’t be the case if Ramirez starts in AAA. Even if Beavan and Garland make the team and pitch well, I’d rather watch a pitcher with more talent.

  11. The_Waco_Kid on March 18th, 2013 10:34 am

    @californiamariner: You have to be careful keeping a player for a tiny potential benefit this season with an almost certain, large cost in the future. I’m rooting and hoping for the Mariners to make it to the World Series, but I’m not betting on it. Keeping Bay is basically betting on it.

    @Kazinski: Man, I hope the FO sees it your way. But also they may be planning OF signings next year, so who knows?

  12. californiamariner on March 18th, 2013 10:38 am

    @The_Waco_Kid: Agreed. I could see Bay OR Ibanez, but both?

  13. _David_ on March 18th, 2013 10:51 am

    The reason why I’m worried about the pitching situation: Beavan and Garland could both plausibly perform at a 1-2 win (in terms of runs allowed) pace and stick in the rotation, and as 4-5 starters they won’t have done anything to “deserve” to lose their spots. In the meantime, Ramirez could stay down for way longer than is justified, cost valuable major league development time in a non-contending season, and forgo the small chance of breakout for Ramirez that the others simply don’t have.

  14. SonOfZavaras on March 18th, 2013 10:52 am

    Well, the fact that Jason Bay is still even around to be a consideration for the Opening Day roster bothers me.

    Look at what he brought during his peak years. Even with a substantial comeback, how do we benefit? There’s right-handed power in the line-upas it is.

    I’m a huge fan of Raul Ibanez, have nothing but respect for him and his pro’s-pro mind-set…but I didn’t want him on THIS particular team. The idea of keeping both Bay and Ibanez makes me want to buy a blindfold if I see both of them man outfield spots at the same time.

    I am just not getting Wedge’s refusal to recognize Casper Wells’ value. I would argue Casper Wells is a necessity to a team like this. Whatever he hits, that glove will play anywhere north of the infield.

    We may not like the Fister deal at all around here, but the fact is: Wells has never been given a clear shot to provide value from it.

    If you really think “4th OF” is his ceiling (and I’m one who DOESN’T think that)…then quit putting has-beens and guys looking for one last year in the sun (with “history of hitting dingers” as their main calling card) in front of him.

    And just let the dude play.

    I swear, from what I’ve seen of Wells and his attitude? Most other major-league managers would just love the guy and look for any excuse to put in left field for a day.

    I shake my head. And not in a happy way.

  15. Seatt101 on March 18th, 2013 10:52 am

    I apologise if I caused offence – maybe that is simply how the article read to me. I appreciate Dave’s work and this site and am old enough to hope that I am seen to respect another person’s opinion so hopefully this comment won’t tar me with feathers in future. However whilst Dave may not want someone to fail his article is hardly supportive so maybe I am entitled to my view?

  16. Dobbs on March 18th, 2013 11:23 am

    If you’ve followed Dave long enough, you’d know he’s right more often than not. If you’re going to disagree, you might want to back it up some decent reasoning.

  17. Paul B on March 18th, 2013 11:31 am

    However whilst Dave may not want someone to fail his article is hardly supportive so maybe I am entitled to my view?

    You are entitled to your view, but if you post it and it is clearly wrong, expect someone to call you on it.

    I am hoping that the M’s have an outfield fall back OF plan because:

    1. There’s a high probability that Bay will continue to hit like he did the last two years (Figgins-level).
    2. There’s a high probability that Ibanez will hit like he did last year away from Yankee stadium (.208-.269-.365) and by July is hitting at the level Griffey was his last partial season.
    3. there’s a non zero probability that this is the year they give up on Smoak.
    4. there’s a non zero probability (although I hate to even mention it) that Guti gets hurt.

    If one or more of those things happen, they will need a backup. The easiest one, probably, is Smoak because they could use Morse and Morales at first and DH.

    The others…. we could really be lamenting that we don’t have Wells come July. Of course, if Bay finds the fountain of youth after being replacement level with the Mets for 2 years, then hey, the M’s are in good shape.

  18. Paul B on March 18th, 2013 11:38 am
  19. Paul B on March 18th, 2013 11:38 am
  20. Paul B on March 18th, 2013 11:40 am

    OK, that didn’t work. And I can’t edit it to delete it.

    So here is a link to Fangraphs, take a look at the graph at the bottom of this page

    http://www.fangraphs.com/graphsw.aspx?players=607

    and tell me what you predict Ibanez would do this year.

  21. Paul B on March 18th, 2013 11:44 am

    I’m being a Debbie Downer today, I guess because KIRO isn’t broadcasting the game, but, guess who has an almost identical career WAR graph to Jason Bay?

    Richie Sexson.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/graphsw.aspx?players=1717,709

  22. maqman on March 18th, 2013 12:06 pm

    Personally I share Seatt101′s views on these subjects and welcome his presence here. As Dave is wont to do on occasion he can go a bit overboard. I recall him stating on one of his first Fangraph chats that he would trade Felix straight up for Justin Upton. (Yes that is true) He seems to presume the M’s are not going to slot MoMo Ramirez into the rotation, why I’m not sure, but I sure as hell don’t expect that to happen. The FO he seems to fear is incapable of properly judging talent is the one that assembled the 15 players still in camp that are slugging over .500, with 11 over .600. SSS sure, spring training numbers don’t matter (that’s too broad of a generalization) but whatever, Dave’s prediction is numbers compared to numbers fertilized by personal opinion. He’s entitled to his, as are all here, including Seatt101 and me.

  23. MrZDevotee on March 18th, 2013 12:52 pm

    PaulB-
    NOT defending Ibanez, or Bay… Really hate that we’ve backed outselves into a corner of thinking we need to keep both of our 1-year rental grit-makers over guys under team control.

    That said, in your reference to the graph on Ibanez, his 2011 WAR was abnormally affected (almost in a bad BABIP way) by an atrocious defensive score (using Baseball References “Runs Against From Fielding”) where he was at -23 (more than double his “normally awful” average). That’s the same thing with his 2007 WAR (the other large dip in the graph), when he posted a -17 “Runs from Fielding”. Those are really the only two “huge drop” years in the latter half of his career.

    So he must have had an abnormally high number of balls hit his way? Or something else significant. But regardless, if we can refrain from sticking him in the outfield too often, and pitch away from him when he’s there, his numbers might be expected to be significantly better than the drop the graph might suggest.

    Just sayin’, it’s something to consider.

    (Eternal Optimist/Glass Half Full attempt at rebutting your more likely scenario)

  24. MrZDevotee on March 18th, 2013 1:02 pm

    As for keeping Wells, I really REALLY REALLY hope this doesn’t come true.

    Keeping BOTH Ibanez and Bay, while doing away with Wells, is ridiculous on so many levels. And could be a “job ending” move for Z. If the 1-year wonders don’t work out, he’s gone. Pretty simple. It would be a horrible outcome to have them floundering like Figgins and Griffey did.

    If we were forced into a trade scenario I for one would rather see us move Smoak, who has both more of a valuable reputation (though perhaps fueled only by fumes now) and significant risk for the Mariners (to keep here). Smoak for ANOTHER OF who still has options, or is currently in AA/AAA.

    It would make more sense. Then we stick Wells in LF (or RF), move Morales/Morse into a DH/1B platoon, and have Bay able to fill in, and Morse able to cover an outfield corner if Wells/Saunders need to play CF. If TWO outfielders are injured, only then are we looking at promoting one of the insignificant guys we have in the minors (Thames?).

    And I feel the same with Ramirez. Losing a year of big league experience for him would be nuts– when he could possibly become a really nice Felix-lite #2 pitcher, with “the big 3″ (4 really, I still like Maurer) able to fill in #3-5 in 2014, with less pressure on their shoulders.

    Unlike Dave, if Ramirez and Wells aren’t on the opening day roster– I for one will start freaking out. It will be inexcusable. Heartbreaking. And I’m about the most Polyanna regular on this board.

  25. MrZDevotee on March 18th, 2013 1:12 pm

    MrZ Part III:

    AND… My biggest freak out currently is the discovery of just how many of our runs this Spring have come from the long ball.

    There’s no way that keeps up during the regular season (right, even I know that?). So I’m a little worried about scoring runs when it gets to 9 innings, everyday, against real Major League talent.

    Morse and Morales definitely seem like upgrades who will help move runners, and possibly score them– even without hitting homers. (They both have pretty good approaches, from what I’ve seen/heard/read.) But the rest of the lineup doesn’t seem built (or put together) in a way to maximize getting on base, and moving guys towards homeplate.

    (Or perhaps I’m just WAY overreacting to my “WTF” feeling about Jason Bay leading off EVER at this point in his career… Was there a coaches meeting that started off “What do you guys think about, from the very get-go, just starting things off completely wrongheaded and misguided… Just doing the complete opposite of what a successful organization would do? Huh?!? Like it?” The only positive spin I can come up with is he’s hitting well and we’re trying to give him as many at bats as possible to showcase him and trade him in the next week… To solve the whole Wells issue.)

  26. djw on March 18th, 2013 1:40 pm

    I recall him stating on one of his first Fangraph chats that he would trade Felix straight up for Justin Upton.

    What on earth does this have to do with Seatt101′s bizarre claim that, because he evaluates the available evidence and concludes that they have less to offer the team than Erasmo Ramirez and are unlikely to be strong performers, Dave “wants Garland and Beavan to fail”? How are these things even tangentially related?

    The FO he seems to fear is incapable of properly judging talent is the one that assembled the 15 players still in camp that are slugging over .500, with 11 over .600.

    As has been exhaustively demonstrated many, many times, and pointed out on this very blog on an annual basis, Spring training statistics have no predictive value. You acknowledge you know this fact, but then assert, vaguely, that “That’s too broad of a generalization”. I can only take that to mean that a) sometimes ST stats are predictive, and b) the 2013 Mariners hitters are an instance of (a). But what possible rational reason is there to believe this? What character does this team have that allows us to predict future performance from ST stats, when most other teams’ future performances cannot be? It’s all fine and good to speculate that X might be an exception to known rule Y, but you have to give some sort of reason for the speculation to make any sense.

  27. Kazinski on March 18th, 2013 2:09 pm

    Having Bay lead off, if he stays on the roster, is not idiotic, first of all batting order doesn’t matter that much. Second, he has always had a high OBP. Third he’s not as bad of a baserunner as you assume, his BSR stat has been positive every year.

    His BsR since 2010 has been: 2.6, 0.6, 1.6. To put that in perspective Franklin Gutierrez BsR over that same period is: 0.5, 2.2, -1.1. So I don’t think he would be a downgrade from Gutierrez on the basepaths. Offensive performance might be something else. But I don’t think he’ll be playing enough for it to matter, who is he going to take AB’s from if he is on the roster? Gutierrez is the only one that makes any sense, it shouldn’t be Saunders, is he going to be a late inning defensive replacement for Morse? If fact who will be the late inning substitute for Morse if Wells is gone?

    I’m deadset against keeping Bay over Wells, but I actually think Bay is a better option than Raul. He’s younger, plays better defense, and does not have much of a platoon split over his career. And if he works out, and we can resign him, there will be a lot more need for RH bat next season when Morales and Morse are gone.

  28. Steve Nelson on March 18th, 2013 2:12 pm

    It’s always good to occasionally refresh oneself on the USSM Orientation – or perchance, for some to read it for the very first time.

    Like all communities, USSM has some expectations of new users. If you want to join the conversation without being ruthlessly torn apart and mocked, it helps if you’re at least familiar with some central concepts.

    Generally speaking, in discussions:
    The burden of proof is on the person who makes the assertion, and the wilder your assertion, the better your evidence should be. If you want to argue that Raul Ibanez is the best defensive left fielder ever, or that clutch hitting exists, or whatever, you need to bring the proof. “You need to disprove my theory” is not an acceptable argument, ever.

    Please note that this does not mean that something has to be justified every time. You should be familiar with the current state of the argument first. If we’ve discussed a topic – like the abilities of Ryan Franklin, which were debated for years – and you decide to argue that he was totally awesome and misunderstood, well, we’re going to refer you back to the body of existing evidence, and you’ll need to go refute that.

    This may seem like a terrible burden on you. Sorry. But there it is. Bear it.

  29. Paul B on March 18th, 2013 2:23 pm

    That said, in your reference to the graph on Ibanez, his 2011 WAR was abnormally affected (almost in a bad BABIP way) by an atrocious defensive score

    But his OPS+ in 2011 was 91. So it wasn’t like his hitting was really great either.

    But regardless, if we can refrain from sticking him in the outfield too often, and pitch away from him when he’s there, his numbers might be expected to be significantly better than the drop the graph might suggest.

    If you assume he can repeat his hitting last year when he was at Yankee stadium by doing that well at Safeco. His OPS+ last year was 138 at home, and 79 on the road.

  30. MrZDevotee on March 18th, 2013 2:30 pm

    Paul B-
    Hopefully (ahhh “hope”… maybe Obama should give the Mariners a speech?) he’s being used in At Bats where he can be successful (used in a Jaso-esque way) which might balance out the ballpark differences when he played nearly full-time the 2nd half of 2012?

    Ah hell. Hopefully he (oh wait, USSMariner rules prohibit wishing ill will on players… Good time for a refresher there)…

    Sigh.

  31. MrZDevotee on March 18th, 2013 2:32 pm

    Kazinski-
    Thanks for that. I guess I was too lazy to look first before just assuming it was a quilted blanket of suckiness the past few years for Bay. That’s actually sort of impressive given his inability to make the bat touch the ball.

    Seriously, you calmed me down on my “WTF” feelings– I just assumed another unexplainable Wedge-ism was at play.

  32. Kazinski on March 18th, 2013 2:40 pm

    As has been exhaustively demonstrated many, many times, and pointed out on this very blog on an annual basis, Spring training statistics have no predictive value.

    Actually that is not true, the one stat that has shown that it can have some predictive value is a a SLG% in Spring that is > .200 pts over the players career SLG%.

    Baseball statistician and author John Dewan found that players who beat their career slugging percentage by more than 200 points in Spring Training have more than a 60 percent chance at beating their career slugging percentage during the regular season (minimum 200 regular season at-bats and 40 Spring Training at-bats).

    Wells is close to that at .600 – .427, but he’s just got 30 at bats so far. There are a few other Mariners that are close to 40AB, and are well above the +.200 level, including Smoak at .711 – .377. Peguero is actually already hit the 40AB level and he his numbers are: .659 vs .367.

  33. Paul B on March 18th, 2013 3:18 pm

    Peguero is a special case. He obviously has power, the question is whether he can learn to hit fastballs (and lay off low fastballs) from major league pitchers that aren’t just trying to get their work in.

  34. djw on March 18th, 2013 3:54 pm

    Kazinski–I was not aware of that study; thanks.

    What is the range of effects? By how much (on average) did these players improve their slg %?

  35. eponymous coward on March 18th, 2013 4:03 pm

    he FO he seems to fear is incapable of properly judging talent is the one that assembled the 15 players still in camp that are slugging over .500, with 11 over .600. SSS sure, spring training numbers don’t matter (that’s too broad of a generalization)

    The M’s as a team have a spring training statline of .286/.341/.526.

    The M’s as a team had a spring training statline of .297/.362/.474 in 2012.

    So… how’d that work out last year, chief?

  36. Kazinski on March 18th, 2013 4:47 pm

    The M’s as a team had a spring training statline of .297/.362/.474 in 2012.
    So… how’d that work out last year, chief?

    Whatever correlation there is its just for individual players. If you look at the M’s players last year that did have more that 40AB and > .200 over their career SLG% you have:

    Seagar
    Saunders
    Suzuki

    And 2 out of 3 did have breakout years.

    It is interesting that team SLG%, has a higher correlation with runs scored than any other single metric (leaving out things like wOBA and wRC+ which are composites), including ISO and OBP. There is a ~.944 correlation between runs and slugging and it stands up year after year. But homeruns were at .81 about the same as batting average and ISO. These figures are

    So is encouraging that there is a modest amount of carry over with player slugging % from ST to the regular season.

  37. MrZDevotee on March 18th, 2013 7:11 pm

    I’m clearly not a naysayer, but adding to what Eponymous said, the M’s led the Cactus League in Avg, OBP, and OPS last season, only trailing the (get this) San Diego Padres in Slug%.

    So yeah, “grain of salt”, and all that. Spring officially doesn’t translate too well.

    That said, I’m definitely interested in that SLG% stat in regards to individual players, and it seems likely to have validity… It’s essentially saying “your slugging % in spring should be around 175-195 (or so) points higher than your MLB slugging %, higher is a good sign you’re hitting the ball pretty well”.)

    **And Kaz, to support your Correlation info above– the M’s are currently 1st in runs and 1st in Slug%… So, yep, holds true there**

  38. The_Waco_Kid on March 19th, 2013 1:27 am

    Having Bay and Ibanez is worse than Griffey and Sweeney because we have better options than Ryan Garko this time. It will be very interesting to see whether Bay or Wells makes the team. I’d say Bay has the edge, because they seem to have lost patience with Wells.

    With Kinney injured, any chance of a 6-man bullpen for a little while?

  39. vj on March 19th, 2013 7:05 am

    Dave,
    I think you are getting mellow. If the team loses Wells to keep Bay, than that deserves to be critizised in the strongest terms. Calling that silly is not strong enough in my opinion. The team seems to be thinking that Saunders can cover center field and that games where neither Saunders nor Gutierrez will be available might be few and far between. Still, an outfield of Ibanez, Bay and Morse would not be fun to watch if it (both Saunders and Gutierrez unavailable) happens.

  40. Paul B on March 19th, 2013 7:31 am

    Still, an outfield of Ibanez, Bay and Morse would not be fun to watch if it (both Saunders and Gutierrez unavailable) happens.

    It would be fun, in a way.

  41. MrZDevotee on March 19th, 2013 7:53 am

    “an outfield of Ibanez, Bay and Morse…”

    Wow. That’s a Kingdome outfield right there. Turn back the clock night?

    I can hear “Keystone Cops” music, so yeah, like stated… It would be fun “in a way”.

  42. Westside guy on March 19th, 2013 9:42 am

    I think Benny Hill’s Yakety Sax would be even better music for a Ibañez, Bay, and Morse outfield.

  43. MrZDevotee on March 19th, 2013 9:49 am

    (laugh)
    Westy. YES! And Z would be the little bald guy they slap on top of the head, yeah?

    Somehow I imagine an all time record for inside-the-park homeruns being attached to that outfield.

    And I suppose that would mean Peggy is making the team, too, as the 4th outfielder?

  44. Kazinski on March 19th, 2013 10:14 am

    I’d say Bay has the edge, because they seem to have lost patience with Wells.

    And yet just about everybody had given up on Saunders last year, regardless of what he had done in spring training. If Guti hadn’t gotten hurt, he wouldn’t have made the team. I think that example may help Wells, and I think it is helping Smoak right now, by both giving him encouragement, and the team being a little more patient.

  45. Westside guy on March 19th, 2013 10:22 am

    Hahaha MrZ – Now I can’t unsee the mental image of Zduriencik in those Benny Hill skits.

  46. stevemotivateir on March 19th, 2013 10:28 am

    I’m still in shock that Kawasaki’s line from last spring didn’t carry over, though his SLG was 4 points shy of being .200 over his career SLG in Japan, which was .327, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

    Seriously, arguing the significance of spring stats is pointless. There’s nothing solid enough that should inspire anyone to start placing bets.

    Take it from me. I’m cleaning cleats during the day for Softbank, and playing the role of a woman in a Kabuki show at night for their entertainment and amusement. Don’t make the same mistake I did!

  47. Westside guy on March 19th, 2013 10:42 am

    More seriously – I am going to TRY and follow Dave’s lead here, and not stress too much about the opening day lineup.

    But that doesn’t mean that (assuming the roster decisions get made that I expect will get made) I have any faith in Zduriencik’s ability as a GM anymore. I expect he’ll lose his job in the next 1-2 years, and go back to a job he’s good at – evaluating talent for the draft, working for some GM that’s not so one dimensional. But there’s no point in stressing over Z not being able to do something he keeps proving he can’t. It’d be like a KC fan stressing over and over about Moore’s dumb decisions.

  48. Kazinski on March 19th, 2013 11:49 am

    But that doesn’t mean that I have any faith in Zduriencik’s ability as a GM anymore.

    I still have faith in Jack because the farm system has gone from putrid to top 5 in baseball. And that is the key to building a winning team. You can add free agents to a home built core, but you have to have the home built core to win. That’s how the Giants are winning, how Texas built their team. Anaheim without without their home built core wouldn’t have been in position to bet heavily on Pujols and Hamilton.

    Don’t focus on the lack of big free agents or blockbuster trades, keep your eyes on the minors pipeline, even if it takes longer.

  49. MrZDevotee on March 19th, 2013 12:15 pm

    I only pay attention to Spring Training… ‘Cause luckily it works in both directions: Suckiness in the regular season tells you nothing about how the team will perform in preseason. And the past two years we’ve been one of the best offenses in all of baseball (before April)!

    And to push Kaz’s point. The only time the team plays well (Spring Training) is when the minor leaguers are in camp. Yay farm system. Causation, correlation be damned.

    (And for the record, that was me b-ing witty/sardonic about the M’s– no snarkiness intended at anyone.)

  50. Westside guy on March 19th, 2013 12:25 pm

    You guys realize KC has had a top-tier farm system for quite a few years now, right?

    Your point is a good one; but having a good farm system is not sufficient in and of itself. The team needs to demonstrate it knows how to use the farm talent to its advantage, and the Mariners have not yet demonstrated that (in my opinion).

  51. MrZDevotee on March 19th, 2013 12:25 pm

    Honestly. I have to admit even MY patience is wearing thin, and I tend to be “Mr. Positive”. I had no idea I was swinging towards the “ut-oh” camp about GMZ, until suddenly a horrible angst is creeping into my psyche as opening day comes. My excitement for a new season is tempered this year by my wondering how many ways we’ll find to be disappointing this season, before June.

    But, also, I like being wrong, so I’m gonna go ahead and run rampant with my skepticism/fears of failure– anything for the team.

  52. Kazinski on March 19th, 2013 12:38 pm

    Well I have to admit that a lot of Jack’s reputation is riding on Smoak, Ackley and Montero this year. If 2 out of 3 can can put up 2.5-3war then the team will be poised for a run of at least modest success.

    Even if the team has a breakout year, but all the improvement comes from the veterans in their walk years, I would say that is not much of a feather in Jacks cap, unless of course they go deep in the playoffs, and of course then it would be worth it even if temporary.

  53. Westside guy on March 19th, 2013 3:38 pm

    And I have to admit, if two of those three young guys come through, my opinion will change. I am aware I’m not being objective in all this. :-D

    Plus my current opinions are probably overly influenced by my inability to understand the Morse, Ibañez, and Bay signings taken together.

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