Jason Bay And Casper Wells Facts

Jeff Sullivan · March 31, 2013 at 2:06 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Some time ago it became abundantly clear that Jason Bay and Casper Wells were going to be fighting for the same job. Less time ago, it became pretty clear that the Mariners preferred Bay, and a few days ago, while the Mariners said they were going to let the competition play out, the team took Bay to Salt Lake while it left Wells in Arizona. Today, the expected became official: the Mariners put Bay on the 25-man roster, and they designated Wells for assignment. The team now has ten days to trade, release, or outright Wells, and several more days after that to try to forget that the Doug Fister deal ever happened. I personally haven’t been able to do that so I think we’re going to need some scientists.

Wells, probably, is going to end up getting traded to a team with a thin outfield in exchange for a non-roster barely-prospect. It’s hard to imagine that Wells would clear waivers, even at this point in time. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I wouldn’t plan on it. As such, I thought this would be a good time to present some Jason Bay and Casper Wells facts of interest.

Casper Wells is 28 years old. Jason Bay is 34 years old.

Wells has four more years of team control. Bay is on a one-year contract.

Wells and Bay are both right-handed.

Wells debuted in the majors in 2010. Since then, he’s batted 656 times, while Bay has batted 1,125 times. According to FanGraphs, Wells has averaged 3.6 WAR per 600 plate appearances, while Bay has averaged 0.4 WAR per 600 plate appearances. When I did an Excel search for “Jason Bay”, I accidentally did an Excel search for “Jason Ba”, and before I got down to Jason Bay I wound up at Jason Bartlett. Jason Bay has been less valuable than Jason Bartlett.

Part of that difference is because the defensive numbers like Wells and think less of Bay. But looking at offense only, Wells has posted a 110 OPS+, while Bay has posted a 90 OPS+. Wells has posted a .189 ISO, while Bay has posted a .135 ISO.

And we can’t just ignore defense, because defense is one of an outfielder’s responsibilities. Even if you aren’t a fan of the metrics we have at our disposal, it stands to reason that Wells is a better defender than Bay is. He’s younger, he’s more athletic, and people have trusted him to play center field. Bay is by no means slow, and some years ago we were probably too hard on him when he was a free agent, but all baseball authorities would agree that they’d rather have three Casper Wellses in the field with the game on the line than three Jason Bays.

Bay hasn’t played center in a meaningful game since 2005. Wells started nine games in center a year ago. The Mariners’ starting center fielder is Franklin Gutierrez, and their only other option is Michael Saunders, so Wells would’ve provided greater useful flexibility.

While Wells has drawn criticism for being streaky, or for not being a starter-caliber player, every player in baseball is streaky, and Wells wouldn’t have been expected to start. Bay’s the guy coming off a .240 wOBA. Bay hasn’t been a starter-caliber player for years, and now he is only older.

Bay is said to be a phenomenally nice guy and he’s got plenty of veteran experience, but the whole reason the Mariners targeted Raul Ibanez was because of his personality and experience and shouldn’t one be enough? What does it mean for the Mariners’ valuation of Ibanez if they felt like they also needed Bay at least in part because of his intangibles?

Rationally, there’s no question that Jason Bay could bounce back. I kind of expect him to, and based on our conversations, Dave feels kind of the same. Bay is healthier now, and he’s in a new environment, and he’s obviously looked good in the spring. Jason Bay, in 2013, could be useful, and we could even come to like him. He’s local. Hooray Jason Bay! Were it not for the Mariners having had Casper Wells, Bay would’ve made some amount of sense as a cheap acquisition. But the Mariners had Casper Wells, and he isn’t injured or sick. He’s young and healthy and the evidence points in his favor. Wells, too, is under control for a while, and while I get that Bay isn’t automatically gone after this year, especially if he’s productive, Wells is something of a long-term asset. Not an outstanding one, but one nonetheless.

There exists a possibility that Bay will out-perform Wells in 2013. There exists a possibility that Wells has already peaked, and that there are things about him that suggest worse things to come. Any projection, however, will take Wells every time, and it’s not like the numbers give him a tiny advantage. The numbers give him a massive advantage, and the Mariners have made a decision against that. We can try to rationalize it, and it should and could be rationalized, but take a step back and there’s no way this doesn’t look silly. Wells is a useful, versatile, young, healthy outfielder, and the Mariners are getting rid of him to make room for another team’s Chone Figgins.

Maybe, somehow, Wells clears waivers and goes to Tacoma, not that there’s playing time to be found there what with Eric Thames, Endy Chavez, and Carlos Peguero. More likely, Wells leaves in exchange for basically nothing. More likely, the Mariners will effectively trade Casper Wells for a fringe prospect and Jason Bay. It’s not a hugely awful move that’s going to have devastating long-term consequences. You can replace a guy like Wells, and this is one of those moves where we say “little bad moves add up”. You don’t want to make too much of those moves individually. But you have to make something of them, and this is a move that doesn’t make any statistical sense. Sometimes the stats miss the point. More times, humans are wrong.


31 Responses to “Jason Bay And Casper Wells Facts”

  1. lemonverbena on March 31st, 2013 2:15 pm

    I, for one, welcome our future robot front office.

  2. Gormogon on March 31st, 2013 2:17 pm

    Maybe Wells is just an a-hole and no one wants him around. Anyone know?

  3. bookbook on March 31st, 2013 2:23 pm

    Rather the contrary, I get the sense that Wells is a good teammate but not a perfect fit for Wedge’s Bowa-lite managerial style. I don’t mind this move, because I think Wells deserves a better chance than the M’s will provide.

  4. Liam on March 31st, 2013 2:38 pm

    I feel like people should have learned the clubhouse chemistry lesson with the 2009/2010 Mariners with Griffey and Sweeney. (+ Cliff Lee and Chone Figgins in 2010)

  5. Bryce on March 31st, 2013 2:44 pm

    Maybe getting drunk would help one forget the Fister trade. Although then one would have a drink in each hand, which would mean one was using both fists, which means one would think of Fister, which means one wouldn’t forget.

    Man that trade was terrible. Releasing Wells to keep Bay is dumb. But it’s nowhere near as dumb as the move that brought Wells here in the first place. Don’t let this dumb blind you to the bigger dumb behind the curtain.

  6. jld on March 31st, 2013 2:58 pm

    Really, I’m not surprised. JackZ has been in my fantasy league for the last 4 season and he hasn’t finished better than 6th yet.

  7. The_Waco_Kid on March 31st, 2013 3:28 pm

    “Sometimes the stats miss the point. More times, humans are wrong.”

    Very well put, Jeff. I get so tired of people who fixate on the shortcomings of statistics while acting as if human whims were less flawed.

  8. Jon on March 31st, 2013 3:30 pm

    Speaking of trying to forget the Fister trade, I am having trouble remembering why we traded Fister at the time we did and for the return we got. It wasn’t his salary or arbitration eligibility.

  9. MrZDevotee on March 31st, 2013 3:32 pm

    FACT: Nobody came knocking down our wall for the far superior player known as Casper Wells, even in the extra 3 days we held onto him and tried to get something done. Perhaps our “Plethora of Facts why Wells is Better than Bay” posting should have come BEFORE he was let go, and faxed around the league? (Said in good fun, not being snarky, promise!)

    To my eyes, and evidently to a lot of major league front offices’ eyes, they don’t see Casper Wells as a 3.4 WAR per 600 PA player. (I was shocked to read that, actually. 3.4 WAR, really?)

    I guess I’m one of the few that doesn’t think he looks very good in the field (not compared to what I’d want out there). And NONE OF THIS is support for Jason Bay… I’m definitely on the side of the fence that “boo’s” the Bay and Ibanez moves. It’s more along the lines of my view of John Jaso– I don’t get it. I don’t get what the strong attraction is to a “meh” player.

    But I’m wrong about lots of things. Admittedly. (And honestly.)

  10. terryoftacoma on March 31st, 2013 3:55 pm

    No,Mr Z you’re not alone. Hard to get upset with DFA of fourth or fifth outfielder. There’s no way I drink the cool aid on Bay but Wells never tooked the job away and in my opinion it was his to lose.

  11. stevemotivateir on March 31st, 2013 4:05 pm

    While the Fister trade certainly stunk, at least it wasn’t a complete bust. Furbush had an excellent season last year. Still wonder why they weren’t more open to the idea of him in the rotation.

  12. Westside guy on March 31st, 2013 4:17 pm

    I think they should’ve kept Wells, but it’s hard to look at what he and Bay respectively did during spring and not see the writing was on the wall.

    Baseball guys believe spring training matters. We all know its small sample size theater, but even when Wedge says in one breath that he’s not looking at numbers… everything else out of his mouth makes it abundantly clear he looks at their numbers.

  13. GarForever on March 31st, 2013 4:53 pm

    Clever, Bryce. Very clever.

    As for me, I’m not happy, but I’ve certainly been more not-happy about a trade, even with this particular front office (por ejemplo, the Morrow and Fister trades). This makes no sense on a purely statistical and team-control level, and I’m sure some of this has to do with Wedge’s “style” and Wells’ perceived shortcomings. But Bay or no Bay, Wells was increasingly a man without a position in the organization, at the big league or the AAA level, especially given the quixotic commitment to Peguero. What bothers me most here is the apparent lack of smart roster management. It was bloody obvious when Bay came out of the gate hot in spring, especially what with Wedge taking ST results too seriously, what was going to happen here. The M’s have had an entire month to work out a trade for Wells where they might have gotten something worthwhile in return(for f**k’s sake, the Astros are starting Rick Ankiel in RF; Wells could probably hit 35 HR for them playing in that park). Maybe they tried this whole time and didn’t like what they’d get in return, but whatever it was it was likely to be better than what they’ll get now that they’ve strapped themselves over a barrel. So the net of the Fister trade is likely to be a lefty specialist and whatever lackluster non-prospect the M’s net out of this DFA situation. Ugh.

  14. PackBob on March 31st, 2013 4:55 pm

    It’s hard for me not to see this as totally Wedge and Casper not being his type of player. If Wedge likes a player (see Beavan) he’s behind him all the way, always highlighting what he sees as good points. If not, he’s wishy-washy, and I would think a player on that list would be looking over his shoulder, wondering when the ax was going to fall.

    I think this move was essentially made last summer, and all Wedge was doing was waiting for a replacement he liked.

  15. MrZDevotee on March 31st, 2013 5:36 pm

    It definitely seems that Wedge likes to make up his mind early about guys and then put blinders on to any changes they make. Both good and bad.

    I’m sure being around these guys, day in and day out, tells one things about them that we can’t see out here in the real world…

    BUT! Evidently, the perspective we have out here can give one a more grand overview of what they’ve been accomplishing, without the inflections/effects of having personal relationships with the guys.

    It makes me think it would behoove MLB teams to have a guy on payroll who does NOTHING within the organization, other than be an outside set of eyes who can be consultaed around the All-Star Break and at the end of the season, to get some “outside” perspective on what guys on the roster are looking like to the rest of the world.

    The Kool-Aid is definitely stronger inside the clubhouse than it is in the stands with some of these guys.

  16. eponymous coward on March 31st, 2013 5:37 pm

    It’s more along the lines of my view of John Jaso– I don’t get it. I don’t get what the strong attraction is to a “meh” player.

    Good organizations recognize the value of these kinds of players- “meh” being “well, nothing special, but useful in the right role” (which I’d agree with). Think Billy Beane and how he told managers in Moneyball (in effect): “hey, this is the player I got for you, here’s how you use him”.

    Bad organizations have people in them who are deeply in the grip of the Maslow’s hammer fallacy: “Casper Wells isn’t a nail, and all I have in my managerial toolbox is a hammer, so let’s sign a nail I can use like Mike Morse and Jason Bay and give away Casper Wells. Mmmm, veteran-y goodness and maybe some dingers”.

    To be perfectly fair to Zduriencik, he’s taken advantage of other organization’s preoccupations with hammers: Brendan Ryan being the perfect example. I kind of see this as “well, Wedge has delivered improvement so far, and I can give him the roster he wants, so he deserves it”- plus the front office may actually THINK Bay > Wells (which makes me shudder, but hey…)

  17. Paul B on March 31st, 2013 5:42 pm

    Bay will probably be out of baseball by July, and Endy will be on the Mariner bench. Or in the outfield after they trade Morse and Morales.

  18. djw on March 31st, 2013 6:04 pm

    To my eyes, and evidently to a lot of major league front offices’ eyes, they don’t see Casper Wells as a 3.4 WAR per 600 PA player.

    Cut that in half and it’s still better than Bay’s 75th percentile projection.

    Yes, yes, championships aren’t won and lost on 4th outfielders. It’s the throwing sane roster construction out the window as an overreaction to offensive struggles that really frustrates me. The Mariners are opening the season with 5 players who should be DHs on the roster, and there’s a good chance 3 of them may not hit well enough to justify DH slots. I’m not going to stick my head in the sand about how crazy this is; it’s a sign of a real weakness our front office has that I didn’t know about before.

  19. Section329 on March 31st, 2013 6:17 pm

    The Jaso trade was when I finally gave up on Jack Z. This one fits that one to a tee.

  20. thedude1987 on March 31st, 2013 8:05 pm

    If Bay has a decent first few months he will have more trade value to a contender than Wells?

  21. alan smithee on March 31st, 2013 8:33 pm

    Id rather have wells than bay but its a lot more important That whoever they keep plays dh against lhp. If you find morales hitting cleanup against lhp then its a sign the team has no idea what its doing and you can write off the season.

  22. MrZDevotee on March 31st, 2013 10:20 pm

    Here’s another fun FACT: (via a CBSSports headline)

    “Yankees’ amount of payroll on DL more than 16 teams’ total payroll”


  23. John Morgan on March 31st, 2013 10:37 pm

    Moves like this serve as a divining rod for fans. Except, I don’t think they really do. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe I am only speaking to my own ignorance, but it doesn’t seem like the most successful franchises of the past ten or twenty years have been the franchises that maximize all the small moves, but the ones that hit big on the big moves. And I don’t think people care all that much about Wells. They care about the competence of Jack Z. And since we don’t really know, and since the team has been among the worst in baseball during his tenure, this sort of bad move seems especially damning. But Smoak develops, Montero develops, Ackley develops, Felix stays healthy, etc.–it will seem irrelevant. It will be irrelevant. It’s those big moves, most as I remember welcomed by smart fans, that have sunk the franchise. The big (so far) busts, the ones that seemed smart (to us), that with our knowledge we couldn’t have known would be busts, and maybe even with the FO’s knowledge, the knowledge of greater baseball, were all thought of as good bets, those define where the M’s are today. So we’re left with either an incompetence we can’t prove or evidence the Mariners have been very unlucky. Maybe the Mariners have been very unlucky. When you think of the sample size of big transactions, and how sensitive it could be to luck …

    Maybe in truth we sweat the small stuff to justify a fandom that by all rights should be dormant for a good part of the year. We’ve become fans beyond the sport. Like people that know which college the band members went to and what they majored in. I know I hated all-but football season: the crap, the minutiae, the promotions, the meting out judgment for every little transaction and with incomplete knowledge. It made me enjoy the sport less, love the team less. It just wasn’t in my blood to be a Seahawks completist. Or to be wounded when the team failed.

    Anyway, I don’t know where I’m going with this. When something like this happens, I hope the best for the player whose life just dead-ended in a way I can hardly imagine. And I hope Bay knocks the cover off the ball. And some weird alchemical charisma is achieved between him and Ibanez, and it turns all the important young players, the ones I was once so excited about, into workout demons and superstar ballplayers. My reason and my fanaticism seem better left apart.

  24. ck on March 31st, 2013 11:10 pm

    Opening Day tomorrow. I will look forward, not backward, and won’t have paralysis of analysis over the last roster spot on a sadly recently frequent last place team. I hope the M’s decision makers are seeking MLB wins this year, and don’t mind the opinions those who play fantasy baseball with uber stats…What am I drinking now? Scotch.

  25. alan smithee on March 31st, 2013 11:13 pm

    For. MLB wins they will need to get more people on base than the current lineup projects them to. Maybe ackley will become the OBA machine we all thought he would. Somebody needs to.

  26. ripperlv on April 1st, 2013 3:45 am

    What if Jason Bay and Mike Morse work out? We gave up Jaso and Wells. I can live with that. Ya gotta play the games to find out.

  27. SeattleNative57 on April 1st, 2013 6:12 am

    I’m torn. I get the statistical projections and comparisons. Wells has all the upside in his favor. Upon his arrival he tore the cover off the ball … dingers in 4 consecutive games (hooray). He played outstanding defense, got on base and appeared to be a gem. Then Brandon Morrow hit him in the face … grazed him really on his nose. Suddenly, or not so suddenly, Wells began to struggle, especially at bat. He complained of dizziness, headaches, sinus problems and balance issues. He missed a lot of time sorting his health issues out. Apparently getting his health resolved, he returned and was never the player he first seemed to be. I don’t know if the beaning was the cause but getting hit in the face has ended the careers of far better players than Wells. Because of his struggles, Wells was fully aware his position was in jeopardy. Wedge and Z openly announced the Bay v. Wells competition. Unfortunately, Wells did not rise to the occasion. Bay outperformed Wells when it mattered. If age and team control were the difference, Eric Thames would be our fifth outfielder and I’m not in favor of that. Whether it was confidence, injury, fear or something else, Casper Wells did not win the most important competition of his baseball career. I cannot believe anyone in charge of an MLB team would have selected Wells over Bay in view of their competition this Spring. I like Wells and wish it had worked out for him here. Baseball can be a cruel sport, littered with stupid judgements and decisions. Ask Edgar about the delay to his MLB career (Darnell Coles, really?). Hopefully, Casper can revive his career.

  28. stevemotivateir on April 1st, 2013 7:40 am

    What if Jason Bay and Mike Morse work out? We gave up Jaso and Wells. I can live with that. Ya gotta play the games to find out.

    What if we had given up a lower level pitching prospect, like Sanchez, to acquire Morse, rather than give up the teams best hitter from a year ago? That likely would have prevented the Ibanez signing as well.

    The trade was ridiculous from all angles. We gave away our best hitter to a division rival with team control -and it wasn’t necessary. I’m not finding much comfort in that, regardless of what Morse does.

  29. The_Waco_Kid on April 1st, 2013 9:55 am

    Wells is clearly not looking like a star. Still, two questions for Wells critics:

    1. Bay should hit better than Wells, but not by a huge margin. With the defensive gap, how much is it really worth to have Bay over Wells?

    2. I keep hearing Wells is just a 4th/5th OF. Doesn’t that make his offensive struggles less important?

  30. alan smithee on April 1st, 2013 10:56 am

    Wells has value but people also need to stop spooging over him. Late 20’s cant hit RHP. Hes not going to get any better and you really don’t want him in the lineup every day. I like him as a bench player but I doubt its a big deal.

  31. Paul B on April 1st, 2013 10:58 am

    There is a non zero chance Wells will improve, and even if not is a better player than Bay right now.

    There is a high chance that Bay’s career is over.

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