The Reason To Make Changes

Dave · May 22, 2013 at 9:45 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The Mariners have lost six straight and have been absolutely pounded the last two nights. The back end of the rotation has performed even worse than usual, putting a significant strain on the bullpen. The offense is struggling again, scoring just 16 runs in those six games, half of those in one contest. After a couple of weeks of more encouraging signs, the glaring weaknesses of the roster are being exposed again.

With Thursday as an off-day, expect the front office to take advantage of the respite and decide whether it is time to make some changes. I think there are some changes to be made, but before I make any suggestions, I think it’s important to again lay the foundation of what should drive decisions to make roster moves.

As I wrote a week ago, you can’t replace past performance. There’s a school of thought that suggests that people’s job status should be evaluated on a pass/fail basis, and they be replaced when their performance crosses some arbitrary line of unacceptability. You’ve heard this with Brendan Ryan — “they can’t keep running out a guy hitting .150″ — and now you’re going to hear it with Aaron Harang, who has an 8.58 ERA and is probably the most likely player to not make the trip to Safeco Field on Friday night.

I find this entire mindset unproductive. It’s a relic of grade school education, substituting test scores for actual evaluations of ability. The job of the front office and coaching staff is not to pass judgment on what players have already done, but to forecast what they are capable of in the future. The primary determinant of a player’s role on a team should be his expected future production. The idea of playing time being available to be earned like a treat for doing ones chores simply serves to relieve the decision makers of the burden of having to make decisions. It’s much easier to simply act as performance judge rather than skilled forecaster, but good teams are built by people who have the ability to see what lies ahead, not those who rely on grading what has just happened.

Aaron Harang’s 2013 performance to date has been unacceptable, but you can’t replace Aaron Harang’s past performance; you can only replace Aaron Harang’s future performance. And you should only replace Aaron Harang’s future performance if you actually think that there’s an alternative that presents the probability of improvement. Saying that Harang’s replacement “can’t be any worse” is not only an untrue simplification, it’s an absolutely terrible way to make decisions.

The Mariners shouldn’t ship players out because they’re unhappy with how they’ve performed. They should ship players out because they believe that the person replacing them is better suited for the job that the incumbent is currently holding. But now there’s a complicating factor, because at 20-27, the 2013 Mariners season is no longer worth saving.

The Mariners have 115 games left to play. If we thought they were the best team in baseball, we might project them to win 60% of their remaining games. A team that wins 60% of their games all year goes 98-64. That’s kind of the ceiling for rational projections. Teams aren’t built to play better than .600 baseball, not in this age of parity.

If the Mariners played .600 baseball the rest of the way, they’d finish with 89 wins. Last year, the two wild card teams each won 93. Even with the addition of the second wild card, the bar to reach the playoffs is 90+ wins, because the second wild card incentivizes more teams to keep their rosters together and try to steal a playoff spot. There’s one more playoff team now than there used to be, but the barrier to entry to play in October hasn’t been lowered that much. 89 wins is not going to get the Mariners to the playoffs.

And, remember, that’s if we decided that, starting Friday, the Mariners were going to instantly transform into the best team in baseball. That’s kind of an absurd notion, because this team isn’t very good. It’d be an accomplishment if this team played .500 baseball the rest of the way. Expecting the Mariners to win 60% of their next 115 games is not quite lunacy but something close, and it still wouldn’t be good enough.

So, no, moves should not be made to try and “right the ship” or “save the season”. The season is lost. The Mariners are 10 games behind the Rangers in the AL West, and there are six teams currently ahead of them in the wild card race, each of whom should be expected to outplay the Mariners over the remainder of the season. Toss in the Angels and Blue Jays, both on their heels in the standings and both with better teams with better expected records over the rest of the season, and the Mariners are something like ninth in the AL Wild card pecking order. The Astros and Twins are the only two teams in the league that you can make any kind of compelling case for having worse playoff odds than the Mariners.

Even in the age of parity, the 13th best team in a 15 team league shouldn’t have any delusions of grandeur. The Mariners should make roster decisions based on what is best in the organization’s long term interests, not trading long term development for short term bandages. The Mariners already tried to rush Brandon Maurer to the big leagues because of a need, and you’re seeing how well that’s worked out. They shouldn’t be in the market for any more of those kinds of promotions.

So, no, Mike Zunino should not come up from Tacoma. He’s not ready. Nick Franklin should not be shoved into the shortstop job; he’s not likely to succeed there. The goal shouldn’t be to just find the best alternatives because an alternative is needed, but to look for alternatives that actually make more sense than the players currently on the roster.

In my view, there are a few such alternatives. So, with that long setup, here’s what I would suggest in terms of roster changes.

Option Brandon Maurer, Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero to Tacoma.
Recall Hector Noesi from Tacoma. (Can’t actually do this for a few more days, due to 10 day option rule.)
Purchase the contract of Nick Franklin and Jesus Sucre.
Designate Francisco Martinez and Vinnie Catricala for assignment.

Noesi replaces Maurer in the rotation.
Nick Franklin takes over as the everyday second baseman.
Jesus Sucre becomes the new backup catcher.
Martinez/Catricala are removed from the 40 man roster to make room for Sucre/Franklin (and also because Martinez is terrible and isn’t a good use of a 40 man roster spot).

Maurer just needs more work in the minors before he’s a big league pitcher. His non-slider secondary stuff isn’t there yet. That’s okay. He wasn’t supposed to be ready. He’s not ready. It’s not a crime. He just needs to work on some stuff.

I’m not giving up on Dustin Ackley, but he’s a mess right now. A break from constant failure could do him some good, and give him a chance to work on getting his swing back to what it was when he was able to drive the ball to all fields. He needs to stop pulling everything, and he needs to cover the outer half of the plate better. This is fixable. It’s probably easier to fix it in Tacoma.

Jesus Montero just isn’t a Major League player. The catching experiment should end, and he should go down to Tacoma and just try and start hitting again. Let him DH everyday and try to remember that he used to have a lot of promise as a guy with power to all fields. Release him of the burden of being the worst defensive catcher on earth and let him focus on getting back to being an interesting offensive prospect. Let him take some reps at first base while he’s down there and see if he can be not horrific at the easiest defensive position on the field. More than anything, though, tell him to just remember how to hit, and he can come back to the majors when the bat is ready to carry the rest of his skills.

Noesi probably isn’t going to be any better than Maurer would be, but he’s also not as important a piece to the team’s future as Maurer, so letting him be the one to take some lumps in a role he’s not cut out for is better for the organization. And, you know, maybe his command takes enough of a step forward to be mediocre enough to not kill them every five days.

Sucre is a nothing player, but he can catch the ball and play once a week while Kelly Shoppach takes over the regular catching duties. Shoppach isn’t good enough to play everyday on a team trying to win, but he’s by far the best catcher the organization has right now, so he’s the best choice. It wouldn’t hurt to look outside the organization for a better fill-in to share time, but Sucre will have to do until or unless one is identified.

As for Franklin, Ackley’s struggles present the opportunity for the team to see if he’s part of the long term infield solution. I’m not convinced he’ll be a dramatic upgrade, but this would be a promotion to evaluate his progress against better competition, not a move made to try and turn the season around. If Ackley’s going to get a few months to try and figure things out in Tacoma, that’s the best possible time to give Franklin a half season of big league time and see what he can do. They can even stick him at shortstop occasionally if they want to see how he is on that side of the bag, but by having him replace Ackley at second, he won’t have to be good enough at SS to play regularly.

In each case, the moves are made not to satisfy the need to do something, but to try and give the players their best chance to succeed in Seattle long term. Maurer, Ackley and Montero shouldn’t be given up on, but they don’t need to be in the majors right now. Franklin is worth looking at in an extended trial. Noesi and Sucre aren’t super important pieces, so if they are overmatched, it’s not the end of the world.

Yes, this means that Harang and his 8.58 ERA stay. 28 innings of a high BABIP and HR/FB ratio are not enough to decide that a guy who succeeded almost entirely through BABIP and HR/FB suppression last year is cooked as a big league pitcher. He’s not great, certainly, and the team needs more than he’s given them so far, but logic suggests that he’s still capable of giving them better than he’s given so far, and there’s no one else in the minors who is any better.

I know there’s some call for Jeremy Bonderman, just because he’s a familiar name and in Tacoma, but he hasn’t been very good for Tacoma, and hasn’t been a good big league starter in a very long time. If Noesi bombs in his next big league start, maybe you go with Bonderman just to try it out, but I don’t think there should be a strong priority on giving him a look. If he opts out of his Tacoma contract because the team didn’t give him a look, so be it. He’s not a piece I care much about.

So, that’s what I’d do. It wouldn’t fix the team, certainly, but this team isn’t fixable in-season. It’s a roster that makes some necessary adjustments, and then can get back to hoping that Felix and Iwakuma can pitch like inner circle hall of famers often enough to keep the rest of the roster afloat.

Comments

47 Responses to “The Reason To Make Changes”

  1. Omerta on May 22nd, 2013 10:00 pm

    Simultaneously accurate and depressing.

  2. dgood on May 22nd, 2013 10:01 pm

    I just had this conversation with a guy at a lodge meeting tonight. I fully agree with your plan of action though I might even consider the option of cutting Andino and bringing up Triunfel as well to take all the time he had been playing since he is on the 40 man already and then you don’t need to DFA Martinez. Though I’m totally fine with him being moved to clear 40 man space. Don’t you need to make a 40 man move to get Franklin as well?

  3. _Hutch_ on May 22nd, 2013 10:02 pm

    This is probably the correct solution, but let’s not kid ourselves: Z and Wedge are fighting for their jobs right now. They aren’t going to punt the season in the name of long-term growth. The worst thing that could happen is the team making a miraculous run at .500 by July and pushing in all the chips for a couple rent-a-players, but that’s what a GM does when he’s backed into a corner.

  4. greentunic on May 22nd, 2013 10:03 pm

    It’s posts like these that make me wish you were involved in the front office.

    It would be awesome to see an opposing argument that is as well thought-out as yours here. But without one, It seems the research backs up your process.

    @Hutch
    I would hope ownership has learned enough not to let Z pull a Bavasi and try to turn a 68 win team into a 73 win team by sacrificing the future.

  5. G-Man on May 22nd, 2013 10:26 pm

    Dave has a viable plan. However, Hutch has a point, Z cant give up for his job’s sake. So I will hazard a guess that we could see a change or two, but hnothing as dramatic as what Dave suggests. Ackley and Montero will stay with the big club.

    greentunic, I don’t see Z trading away the future Bavasi-style. that’sa too much.

    Bottom Line: mostly rearranging the decks chairs with some minor changes that might help a tad.

  6. PackBob on May 22nd, 2013 10:31 pm

    The most important aspect to fixing the team is getting Ackley, Montero, and I would still include Smoak, to be successful at the ML level. Some guys can make a quick transition, like Seager, some can’t. The push to develop and win at the same time with the young guys simply has not worked. I don’t think Harang/Bonderman/Noesi makes much difference.

    Maybe it seems like giving up a little bit on the team in terms of W/L record, but the M’s have veterans now that can handle it. And who knows — this is baseball — the M’s could actually improve their W/L record with swapping out the young guys.

    The 2013 team was built on the hope and a prayer that everything would go perfect. It’s gone the opposite and now is the time to ditch that plan.

  7. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2013 10:37 pm

    If I remember correctly, Bavasi was trading away the team’s future long before his job was on the line. But I have no idea what Zduriencik might choose to do at this point in an attempt to salvage his job. His approach has completely changed since he first arrived.

    Dave’s moves make sense, but let’s not kid ourselves as fans – they won’t make this team significantly more watchable.

  8. californiamariner on May 22nd, 2013 10:44 pm

    I’m afraid that hutch made a good point. I don’t see them willing to sacrifice for future gains when they sense that their jobs are on the line.

    I was wondering what Dave thinks will happen with Morse and Morales since they are about to be free agents. I know he said before the season that he expected them to resign Morse, but wondering if that changed and what the stance is on Morales.

  9. Dave on May 22nd, 2013 10:49 pm

    I would try to keep Morales and dump Morse, but Morse is far more likely to re-sign before free agency, and they’ve spent a lot of capital trying to convince the fanbase that he’s some kind of star player. My guess is they’ll try to re-sign both, but Boras will take Morales to free agency, and they’ll only re-sign Morse instead.

    My only hope at this point is that ownership won’t let Jack do it.

  10. easternWAmsfan on May 22nd, 2013 10:49 pm

    I agree with sending down ackley and montero. They both need more time in AAA. Montero barely plays as it is, and wedge won’t use him as DH or PH because he’s the only backup C. I’d agree with dgood on bringing up Triunfel instead because he’s on the 40 man. give him a month at 2b and a few games at SS to see how he does. That gives franklin a little more time and his super 2 status.

    Pitching wise I don’t think Harang offers much more than bonderman would. I’d consider them equal. Why not give bonderman and noesi a chance and DFA Harang. I agree to send down. B. Maurer and for that matter Luetge too. I’d even argue we could use another lefty in our rotation. I know Danny Hultzen isn’t ready, but I like the idea of 3 rightys and 2 leftys in a rotation these days. Pretty much any team can throw out a 6-7 player lineup of R’s or L’s anyway.. Bring up Triunfel, Bonderman, Sucre (or trade for C), Noesi, DFA Harang, Andino.. Option Maurer, Ackley, Montero

  11. terryoftacoma on May 22nd, 2013 11:10 pm

    If memory serves me, a player has to stay in the minors 10 days before being recalled and Noesi was optioned the 17th which means he can’t be recalled before the 27th. That just happens to be Harang’s next scheduled start. I think they may put him on the DL claiming a bad back.

  12. Logan Davis on May 22nd, 2013 11:18 pm

    I agree with the spirit of your suggestion, but in practice I have some quibbles.

    Noesi was only sent back to Tacoma five days ago, after his start on the 16th, so he isn’t eligible to return until the 27th (the day before Maurer’s next scheduled start). If there’s a move made tomorrow it’ll be Beavan or Bonderman.

    It’s inaccurate to say that Ackley is pulling everything. In fact, based on Fangraphs’ batted ball direction classifications, his (pulled BIP) / (BIP) is seventh on the team (min. 100 PA), behind Seager and Saunders. He’s got 41 BIP to right, 40 to center and 34 to left. The problem isn’t that he’s pulling everything, it’s that everything he pulls is on the ground. 80% GB on pulled BIP… that’s where the ISO went.

  13. StorminGorman on May 22nd, 2013 11:28 pm

    Seconded. I’d recall Triunfel and DFA Andino as well. He’s better suited for the job.

    Re: Montero, I wonder if the reason *not* to make the change to DH thus far has been to satisfy Montero’s ego. We’ve all known for a while that he’s not a Major League catcher. Maybe now Montero can accept it as well, and will be in a better mindset when he’s told he’s going to Tacoma (or Jackson) to DH every day.

  14. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2013 11:31 pm

    Given that the fan base has had the past several weeks to watch Morse struggle, and given he’s made some glaring – almost Ibañez-esque, dare I say – misplays in the outfield lately, I don’t see the fans being all that happy if the team re-signed Morse at the current juncture. I know a handful of old-school types, and at the moment I can’t think of one guy who’s high on Morse.

    I realize a few dingers could change those sorts of minds in a hurry, though. Look at how people were all gaga over him after the first seven or eight games – even here on USSM. Nerds also dig the long ball, obviously…

  15. thurston24 on May 22nd, 2013 11:35 pm

    I would wait on calling up Franklin right now. I’m a big believer in him but listening to what has been on prospect insider, it sounds like he needs a little more time in AAA before he’s ready. Rushing prospects can ruin them (cough, cough, Smoak) and I really want to see him succeed but then again Seager forced the issue and he’s been awesome. Either way, I agree send Ackley down along with Montero and bring up someone who is ready.

  16. Logan Davis on May 23rd, 2013 12:01 am

    Here’s something I don’t understand, Dave. Why are you so clear-cut about keeping Morales and dumping Morse?

    Is it speed or defense? They’re equally awful baserunners, and Morse’s career defensive numbers at 1B are as good as if not better than Morales’. It doesn’t seem to me there’s any real gap between the two in the non-hitting parts of the game.

    Is it the fifteen months of age? The aging curves from 30-34, both for overall hitting and for power, are basically straight lines. It’s not like we’d expect one to decline much faster than the other, and they’re at pretty much the same place offensively right now.

    Is it projections? Steamer likes them both equally. ZiPS thinks that Morse’s power advantage is no more, but it’s actually Morales who has seen his HR and FB distance decline further this year (ten feet, from 286 to 276) as opposed to two feet (from 302 to 300) for Morse. ZiPS also thinks Morse will K at a 25% rate for the rest of the year, but I don’t trust the drop in his contact rate yet.

    Is it Morse’s nagging injuries? What about Morales’ ankle and the fact that Scioscia and Wedge both seem to think it means he can’t be anything but a DH?

    Given the choice between the two at equal price, I’d take Morales, because he seems slightly better in most ways – a little younger, a little less fragile, a little more disciplined. But the two won’t be at equal price. Part of that is because Morales’ is a Boras client while Morse is an ACES client. Part of it is because Morales is a little younger, a little less fragile, and a little more disciplined.

    These players are very similar. One is probably slightly better, but he is also probably slightly more expensive. How can the difference between the two be so great that you’re clearly in favor of extending one but totally against extending the other?

  17. frazfan on May 23rd, 2013 12:07 am

    And while we’re at it, let’s release Andino and bring up Triunfel. He batted something like two and a quarter when he came up last year, and he has the potential to be a reasonable utility man. If we’re going to throw the season away–and it doesn’t seem like there’s much choice–let’s do it properly. Send down the pieces that are not doing their jobs and bring up a few shiny prospects. And after this road trip, I’m thinking Wedge’s days as manager are numbered. Who will be our next fearless leader?

  18. The_Waco_Kid on May 23rd, 2013 12:11 am

    Dave, you’re right that there’s more emotion than logic behind calls to dump Harang. However, at a certain point you have to reassess your projections of his future performance and consider that maybe he will continue sucking. How long would you put up with him? Also, it seems like a low-risk move to cut Harang and bring up Bonderman. I guess it doesn’t make much difference.

    I’d like to see these moves, but we’ll probably just get Beavan or Noesi for Maurer. Also, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Triunfel up, so don’t get too angry when that happens :)

  19. Snuffy on May 23rd, 2013 12:40 am

    Option Montero, Ack & Maurer. DFA Andino. Get Harang on the DL or DFA the guy after his next start.
    Bring up… Noesi (who I’m convinced has a good future in the bullpen and as an emergency starter. But for now, he takes Maurer’s spot.)
    Triunfel (see if he can be a decent backup 2b, 3b ss type.)
    Franklin (let him start at 2b)
    Bonderman to replace Harang as starter until Erasmo returns.

    See if the Dodgers are interested in Franklin Gutierrez… they are down on Ethier and while expensive and bad vLHP, Ethier would be a big addition vRHP.

  20. vj on May 23rd, 2013 1:54 am

    Guys, Harang’s current xFIP is 4.25, in other words, his current poor ERA im mostly based on an unusually high BABIP, HR/FB% and LOB%. An xFIP of 4.25 is actually pretty decent. To compare, Joe Saunders and Brandon Maurer both have higher xFIPs than Harang.

  21. ndevale on May 23rd, 2013 4:47 am

    Interesting that Stone makes almost the same argument. Does this make it more likely that the M´s will make these moves?

  22. rightwingrick on May 23rd, 2013 6:48 am

    Mostly agree with the analysis, but Aaron Harang has to go and should never have been picked up. He’s 35, and despite his obvious past “OK” numbers like his ERA, his underlying numbers (such as command and ability to dominate) have been eroding for a number of years. Here’s one analysis: “Gradual control erosion over past three years gives him a razor thin margin of error; his downside is 5.00 ERA in the future.”

    Bonderman is a better bet than Noesi, simply because Bonderman is an experienced major leaguer who is more likely to be able to control damage…and his most recent past starts are getting better and better.

    Hultzen’s injury was very unfortunate, because I think it was clear that if he did well and we had a problem at the major league level, he’d be brought up in June. That all panned out….except then Hultzen got hurt.

    Completely agree on Maurer, Ackley, and Montero. And I frankly think the M’s made a mistake on Blake Beavan by showing so little faith in him. He doesn’t have Felix Hernandez stuff, of course, but if you look at Beavan’s stats over his first two years and compare to Felix’s first two years, there are some surprising similarities. Beavan might be another guy they call back if he has another strong start.

  23. bookbook on May 23rd, 2013 7:24 am

    I agree with the spirit of this post.

    I wouldn’t, however, be ready to dump Catricala. He’s been hitting his last 15 or so games. (OPS ~1,000 ). Probably just a lucky streak, but maybe he finally made the adjustment he needed to make. Low probability that that is, i don’t sacrifice that possibility in the process of making moves oriented towards the future if I can help it.

    DFA Andino instead, and let Seager and Franklin each cover SS 1 day a week.

  24. bookbook on May 23rd, 2013 7:26 am

    Play with 24 on the roster. wedgie doesn’t like to use his bench much, anyway!

    (No. call up Triunfel. Why not?)

  25. BobbleHeadJunkie on May 23rd, 2013 7:34 am

    Totally agree with most everything you said Dave…….I also wonder if we should give Triunfel (bookbook)a look along with Carraway. And, I also agree with the idea of dumping Andino (bookbook). To think we also could have had Garland on this staff….oh well.

  26. rick m on May 23rd, 2013 7:36 am

    I completely agree with keeping Harang for the reasons you give, Dave. I think he’ll regress to okay for a 4 or 5. I don’t agree with any team quitting in May. These moves don’t mean the season is lost. They are attempts to fix problems, see what we have, and determine how we go forward into late June and on. And I sure as heck will appreciate a miraculous run to .500 that tempts the front office to become buyers. That is my fervent desire.

  27. MissouriMariner on May 23rd, 2013 7:51 am

    I like your ideas, Dave, and just hope that the front office does do something like this. I really don’t see where Triunfel helps anything though and wonder why there is always so many calling for him. He has never seemed to be that good to me but……

  28. Sports on a Shtick on May 23rd, 2013 8:03 am

    Divish is reporting the Montero-Sucre swap. One down…

  29. jak924 on May 23rd, 2013 8:03 am

    I think at this point Ackley and Montero are never going to be major league. These two are career AAA.
    Saunders is destined to be a fringe 4th/5th outfielder and will probably spend time with 6 or 7 organizations before he’s through. The problem, of course, is that the Mariners are hesitant to pull the plug on Ackley and Montero because it makes Z look bad. Very bad.

  30. bookbook on May 23rd, 2013 8:15 am

    Triunfel probably tops out as a mediocre utility guy, sure. I’m calling him up mostly to keep Cat on the 40-man.
    But really, will he be so much worse than Andino in this lost season that anyone will care? I don’t see it. And, hey, maybe a bit of ML time helps us see whether he can do it

  31. Dave on May 23rd, 2013 8:31 am

    These players are very similar. One is probably slightly better, but he is also probably slightly more expensive. How can the difference between the two be so great that you’re clearly in favor of extending one but totally against extending the other?

    1. You have to keep the DH penalty in mind if you’re going to equalize their defensive value based on the fact that Morse would be more valuable as a DH than an OF. History suggests that hitters hit worse as a DH, so you either have to adjust Morse’s offensive levels down or Morales’ up if you want to put them on the same playing field.

    2. Morales understands his defensive limitations and is fine serving as a DH. Morse made it clear over the off-season that he had no interest in DHing. In his mind, he’s still a shortstop. Moving him to DH to limit his defensive issues won’t be an option, since he doesn’t think he has any and doesn’t want to DH.

    3. DHs have generally gone for less than bad defensive OFs, so I think you may be overestimating the price gap between them. Even with Boras as his rep, Morales isn’t likely to have a ton of bidders due to how little first base he’s played since coming back. NL teams aren’t going to be interested in a multi-year deal, and there aren’t that many AL teams that will want to bid up a full time DH.

    4. Morales has a wider base of skills. Morse is a one trick pony. If/when that trick declines, he’s useless.

    5. Morales is less likely to be suspended for PEDs than a guy who has already been caught using once and miraculously gained 50 pounds and found his power stroke later in his career.

    6. Morales is a switch-hitter who has improved significantly against LHPs this year, and as Jeff noted over the winter, this may have been a thing he figured out last year. Morse’s skillset is likely to decline to the point where he’s nothing more than a platoon OF, as his offense vs RHBs isn’t likely to make his defense/baserunning a viable package against them much longer.

    So, yes, Morales is better, younger, not unaware of his defensive issues, is improving on his biggest weakness, and plays a position that generally doesn’t get paid much in free agency. He’s the one to try and keep. Morse is a meh player who doesn’t understand he’s a meh player and has the skillset that too often gets overpaid. Let him go.

  32. omahajoe on May 23rd, 2013 8:34 am

    ….and so it has come to this. sobering. couldn’t stay competitive until memorial day.

    sigh.

    maybe the walk-offs in cleveland will be a blessing in disguise.

    agree with the moves, dave. will be interesting to see what Z does. i feel it may be a very frustrating second half of the season.

    we are left with:

    1. hoping ackley, smoak and montero show progress at the plate
    2. AAA pitching (and Maurer) develop better control and secondary pitches
    3. see what franklin brings to the table
    4. hope Z can pull a rabbit out of the hat via trade
    5. hope we don’t sign Morse to a ridiculous extension

    Sounds a lot like last year!

    On the “good” news front — Montero to be sent down according to Divish.

  33. Westside guy on May 23rd, 2013 8:37 am

    7. If we keep Morales and dump Morse, we never have to hear “Take On Me” blaring over Safeco’s sound system, ever again.

    Classic win-win.

  34. deflep78 on May 23rd, 2013 8:44 am

    First move of the day. Per Divish, Montero is optioned and Sucre up. No word on corresponding 40 man move. Now time to option Mauer and Ackley, DFA Harang and Andino and bring up Carraway, Bonderman and Franklin.

  35. smb on May 23rd, 2013 9:20 am

    I almost wish I were a Pirates fan.

    It’s come to that.

  36. Logan Davis on May 23rd, 2013 9:33 am

    Thanks, Dave. If it’s not too much trouble, my counter-questions:

    1. I was actually thinking of Morse as a first baseman, not a DH. He played there every day from May to September of 2011, his best year, and didn’t seem to have any problem with not being in the outfield. There’s also (so far as I’m aware) no 1B penalty. Now if Smoak’s BB% gains are legitimate, maybe he’s interesting enough to be worth keeping around and the team doesn’t need an extra 1B, but I kind of doubt that. As a 1B, Morales has a career 122 wRC+, which is right where LF!Morse would be right now if he had a .300 BABIP.

    2. Again, he may not want to play DH but I haven’t found any evidence that he doesn’t want to play 1B.

    3. True. This is a good point. I imagine if the Mariners gave Morales a qualifying offer (him being kind of a fringe case for it) he’d have next to no other suitors on the free agent market.

    4. What other skills? He has a plate discipline advantage, both in eye and in contact rate, but his plate discipline is still bad and won’t be enough to carry him if the power goes. If either of these guys lose their power they’re done. Is this a doubles power vs. home run power thing, or…?

    5. True. This is my biggest concern with Morse, especially since his agency has been in PED trouble lately and has had a bunch of players distance themselves from it.

    6. True. This is my favorite thing about Morales – the fact that he’s been improving, both with his performance vLHP and with his BB% and O-Swing. The batted ball distance and ISO drops are worrying, though…

    I think I’m kind of arguing just for the sake of arguing. I agree with you that, given the choice, Morales seems like the better buy. I just don’t think there’s enough of a gap between them for there to be a firm line in the middle that says EXTEND THIS GUY on one side and DO NOT EXTEND THIS GUY on the other.

  37. AllHailKingFefe on May 23rd, 2013 9:35 am

    Dave,
    It seems like Morales will most likely test the free agent market this offseason. With that being said, what is the possibility of a trade before the deadline? Also, what would a trade involving Morales look like?

  38. stevemotivateir on May 23rd, 2013 9:49 am

    I’m still wondering who’s going to get squeezed out when Gutierrez returns.

    Also wondering when they’ll make an effort to acquire real outfielders to solidify the corners (assuming Saunders is the CF moving forward).

  39. LongDistance on May 23rd, 2013 9:55 am

    Nice Dave. Sober. I especially liked the Zunino/Franklin statement… which I think the front office would be crazy if they didn’t think the same thing… AND the sane (and humane, for both him and the rest of us) program suggestion for Montero (although the Shoppach alternative already creates a feeling of acid reflux).

    But… as (unfortunately) always at this time of the year, when the playoffs have already been booted… and this annual assessment of what we have, and what can be done with it begins… I find myself wishing you’d factor in ticket sales considerations.

    Me, I’m wondering what sort of dingerdong consideration they’re going to start looking at, outside of realigning Seattle and Tacoma.

  40. selfloathingMsfan on May 23rd, 2013 9:59 am

    Montero has been sent to Tacoma. Sucre will replace him. With Zunino in Tacoma, that should mean the end of the Montero as catcher train wreck.

    Source: Tacoma News Tribune.

  41. JasonJ on May 23rd, 2013 10:24 am

    Would be amusing to me if the FO actually made these moves simply because I’m going to the Rainiers v Reno Aces games this weekend and it would be pretty strange seeing two of the franchise saviors of Ackley and Montero in the line-up.

    But, I agree that they are the right moves. Both of those guys need a reboot.

    Pretty depressing since it’s only May, but I’m already looking forward to Dave’s offseason plan post for 2014. And I have a feeling it will be an eventful off-season…

  42. Iowa Ms Fan on May 23rd, 2013 10:48 am

    Dave:
    Just a thought? Aside from Catricala and Martinez, would the Ms consider cutting bait with Thames? It seems like he’s blocked at Tacoma. With the wealth of outfielders, even if they aren’t great overall, I’m not sure he’ll be back to the show with the Ms anytime this year.

  43. yespleaze on May 23rd, 2013 11:03 am

    If Triunfel has the versatility to play the defensive positions Andino does currently, what’s holding up this move? It doesn’t require any 40-man roster finagling like the Montero has. Hell, if we release Andino, it would open a spot on the 40-man for Franklin. Plus, Triunfel looks like he has a clue at the plate. This can’t be a Super Two delay, can it?

  44. Athanasius on May 23rd, 2013 11:49 am

    It strikes me as overly simplistic (I personally wouldn’t say “grade school education” simplisitc) to draw such a strong line of demarcation between past performance and projecting future performance. Past performance is a vital component of future projection.

    The more nuanced statement is, to determine to what degree past performance and perhaps most importantly, recent past performance is indicative of future performance.

  45. miscreant on May 23rd, 2013 1:21 pm

    This team is always behind the 8 ball. Always unprepared. Zdurenciek and company don’t seem to have a solid grasp on what it takes to build a successful MLB roster. The M’s have Aaron Harang, Joe Saunders and rookie Maurer in the rotation for chrissakes!

    To me the following quote accurately describes the muddled chaos of the Mariner’s Front Office.

    “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”

    Sun Tzu

  46. dantheman on May 23rd, 2013 3:57 pm

    “The job of the front office and coaching staff is not to pass judgment on what players have already done, but to forecast what they are capable of in the future.”

    Athanasius is far more right than the original post. Even if one accepts the argument that past performance is not a basis to make changes, what is there to be said about the front office and coaching staff when they were forecasting the future performance of this team this Spring? And why should we trust them to forecast future performance of anyone now?

    P.S. The idea that you only make a change if the replacement is better is axiomatic. That’s the point of making a change. The difficulty is in “forecasting” the future performance of the replacement player after having already failed at that task regarding the player you want to replace.

  47. DrM on May 23rd, 2013 4:02 pm

    I agree with sending Ackley down. I’m a big fan but he has to stop thinking of himself as a homerun hitter. My wife couldn’t understand why I was so unhappy when he hit a grand slam against Toronto a couple weeks ago. “That may ruin his career”, I said. She laughed.
    Last night I checked out some box scores. In the approximately 50 at bats since the grand slam he’s hit about 150. In the 50 at bats before the grand slam he hit 350. Small sample size but my wife’s NOW only laughing about my wasting so much time looking up old box scores!

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