’14 40-Man Preview Extravaganza

Jay Yencich · November 14, 2014 at 9:30 am · Filed Under Mariners, Minor Leagues 

Here’s a point of perplexity for me: Every year, baseball does a great deal to improve the profile of the minor leagues through active promotion of the flashy components. We get the Futures Game, and we get the Arizona Fall League, and we get the Draft being put on the rack and stretched out to three days with a lot of televised hooplah on day one to get people excited about a player development system that has uniquely bad returns among the sports. And yet, in the offseason, when I’m looking up information on the important dates, I can’t find a single thing on when 40-man rosters are supposed to be finalized in the 2014 season, but I can find information on when the GM Meetings occur even though nothing relevant has ever happened during them. They just happened. You didn’t know it. Who cares? Why not mention a deadline? Why is that important vetting process, without which most prospects are useless, wholly ignored by the sport’s own website? How long would it conceivably take to throw just a line of information on your website? That’s it. I’m through. (storms off)

(storms back) Okay. So the name of the game this year: ’10 high school draftees and early international signings, ’11 college draftees. Those are on the chopping block for the first time. I’m going over more than just the likely candidates here, but if I omit a name that you think is relevant, ugh, I’m sorry, there’s only so many candidates that I don’t expect to be added to the roster that I can fruitlessly cover anyway. Part of the issue is that, with how the Mariners have recently operated their player development system, remarkable players get added far earlier and so this deadline becomes more surprising on average but less sexy. Taijuan Walker, Brad Miller, and Carson Smith would be eligible for the first time— zowie!— if… they… hadn’t already been added to the 40-man some time ago. What we’re left with is sifting amongst the dudes who have not already been Mariners, which takes the enthusiasm out of it. Also looking at next year, which at least now, seems like it will be far more interesting.

As is custom in these updates, the following players have been snubbed from extensive write-ups:

Jamal Austin (lack of walks, excess of weed), Steve Baron (still not hitting enough), Leury Bonilla (beloved, but irrelevant), Patrick Brady (ditto), Yordi Calderon (nice in the VSL in ’13, but awful in Pulaski in 2014), Christian Carmichael (back-up C, never hit), Phillips Castillo (chronic disappointment, but not a disappointment because of the chronic), Min-sih Chen (injuries, never lived to potential), David Colvin (fringe candidate, but missed the last month+), Mike Dowd (batting line that would make Steve Baron blush), Jimmy Gillheeney (hits, dingers, walks, lack of stuff), Luke Guarnaccia (yet to take root outside of short-season ball), Cam Hobson (3.3 BB/9 to 4.9 K/9), David Holman (does not strike out guys), Kyle Hunter (contact pitcher), Seon-gi Kim (hasn’t done much outside of Clinton), Marcus Littlewood (could be turning into a viable catching prospect but I need to see more hitting), Jack Marder (injured the last month+, no standout skill), Nate Melendres (did not pass first double-A test), Brian Moran (recent TJ), Estarlyn Morales (great numbers, great name, never been above the Appalachian League), Ramon Morla (live arm got surgery in first pitching experiment), Jochi Ogando (nightmare walk rate), Guillermo Pimentel (hurt for almost entire year), Kevin Rivers (needed to impress in double-A, didn’t), Brett Shankin (great last-name-as-verb, but walks and few Ks), Forrest Snow (was better last year and hasn’t gotten younger since), along with an assortment of guys who are now minor league FAs.

My lack of a media guide this past season means I’m also possibly omitting guys who are still in the system but disappeared due to injury. A few others, I don’t know the status of because of their international standing. I don’t think Ketel Marte is eligible, for example, because he signed mid-August in 2010 and so I doubt it was for a same-year contract. But I also don’t feel like writing about him, so there’s that too.

There’s also a real possibility that guys like Anthony Fernandez, Carlos Rivero, and regrettably, Ji-man Choi could get flushed out before the deadline, so don’t act like the numbers we have now are actually relevant. They might not be.

OF Jabari Blash, 6’5″, 225 lbs, 7/4/1989
AA: 37 G, 163 PA (127 AB), 27 R, 30 H, 7 2B, 3B, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 35/28 K/BB, .383 wOBA (.236/.387/.449)
AAA: 45 G, 189 PA (162 AB), 23 R, 34 H, 8 2B, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 57/17 K/BB, .357 wOBA (.210/.312/.481)
Pros: Monstrous power, toolsy
Cons: Middling contact skills, tokes

Among the other minor league stories of the season, Jabari Blash, while playing baseball in a state that has legalized marijuana use, was suspended fifty games by the sport for said recreational drug usage, proving again that it doesn’t matter what the state says if your employer isn’t into it. So that was something that happened this year. Another thing that happened is that Blash has a slash line that was -.030/-.023/-.013 off his career averages. While it’s tempting to blame that on his “biting that apple,” as it were, he was making great strides in Jackson with his plate discipline (21.5% Ks, 17.2% BBs) before swinging himself into a crater in Tacoma (30.2% Ks, 9.0% BBs). I don’t know if the Mariners policy towards recreational drugs makes any more sense than their policy towards performance-enhancing drugs which, for the record, doesn’t.

RHP Mayckol Guaipe, 6’3″, 175 lbs, 8/11/1990
AA: 1-3, 40 G, 2.58 xRA (3.05 ERA) in 56.0 IP, 45 H (4 HR), 21 R (19 ER), 56/9 K/BB (24.8 K%, 5.3 nB%)
Pros: Always has had lively stuff, among the best results for relievers, perty command numbers
Cons: This is the first time you have ever heard his name.

Sometimes the mid-range foreign signings take longer to make good on what they have. Guaipe’s command numbers were flat-out bad despite his ERA for his first three seasons in the VSL and ultimately the experiment to see what they could get out of him in the rotation didn’t last too long because, even as the walk rate improved, the Ks were always on that threshold of acceptability. He could throw in the low-90s and had a neat little change, but he was never doing it consistently on account of wonky mechanics. His 2013 High Desert stint was his first year relieving almost exclusively, and while the results there were nothing special (command took a step back, circumstances), this year was leaps and bounds ahead of where he was, in part because he posted the lowest average against and walk rates of his career. He was murder against RHB for Jackson (.197/.228/.282), so I’d see a setup career for him, the question is if he’s better than what you’ve got.

C John Hicks, 6’3″, 180 lbs, 5/21/1991
AA: 53 G, 211 PA (189 AB), 29 R, 56 H, 10 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 42/20 K/BB, .352 wOBA (.296/.362/.418)
AAA: 28 G, 112 PA (101 AB), 13 R, 28 H, 2 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 22 RBI, 24/7 K/BB, .328 wOBA (.277/.330/.379)
Pros: Praiseworthy receiver, good offensive season in high minors, always need catching, hitting in the AFL
Cons: Back-up profile

If something so dire as a “loser” comes of the emergence of Jesus Sucre as a guy you can throw baseballs to maybe 30-40 games a year, Hicks is that loser. Thus, any talk of Hicks as an addition starts as a basic conversation between what we have and what we might have. Sucre can frame pitches and has a gun for an arm. More than once has he been at 40-50+% caught stealing for the season. But he has passed balls as a thing that happens to him, which implies that the glovework is fine, but the footwork isn’t. Hicks had two passed balls last year. I didn’t even know minor league catchers could do that, let alone Hicks, who had seventeen and twenty as previous full-season marks. He’s also a guy who historically has had high CS rates, 38% last year, but 54% in 2012 with no clean statistics for ’13. He’s also undeniably a better hitter, with better walk rates, better average, and more slugging, he just strikes out more. I’d take Hicks’ future over Sucre’s, but when you’re splitting hairs on probable back-up catchers, there’s only so much ground to be covered and also you should probably reevaluate life choices.

UT Ty Kelly, S/R, 6’0, 185 lbs, 7/20/1988
AAA: 134 G, 549 PA (456 AB), 81 R, 120 H, 19 2B, 2 3B, 15 HR, 80 RBI, 96/85 K/BB, .263/.381/.412 (.374 wOBA)
Pros: Still walks more than anyone else in the system
Cons: Have you seen what the Mariners value?

Ty Kelly got a full season in triple-A to do the things that he does and ultimately not have any decision-maker care that I know of. Why, he even pitched a bit? Talking about Ty Kelly on his own feels a bit fruitless because what he does well and what the organization values are so much at odds that I don’t really know how or why they acquired him. They gave him a lot of plate appearances this year, but when September rolled around, they didn’t have the least use for him even as a pinch-walker or whatever. And he still doesn’t really have a position still aside from spending most of his time at second and third, which, about that, you’re not unseating Cano or Seager. Sorry kid. The other thing is that Kelly walked at a lower rate this year, granted it’s only 15.5% to last year’s 17.1%, but it seems significant when the home runs you’ve gained might be nothing more than the translation of doubles into a phenomena wholly grounded in the PCL. I like Kelly. I want good things for him. I’m a realist. I don’t see the Mariners seeing the same value in him that I can hypothesize at.

RHP Andrew Kittredge, 6’1″, 210 lbs, 3/17/1990
AA: 6-1, 42 G, 3.48 xRA (4.35 ERA) in 82.2 IP, 91 H (11 HR), 47 R (40 ER), 112/25 K/BB (30.4 K%, 7.3 nB%)
Pros: Scouted well in the past, K-rate through the danged roof, locally sourced
Cons: Aside from the “wait, what?” effect, unproven in high minors and trouble with LHB

I don’t pay as close attention to the minor leagues as I used to, and Kittredge jumped out as a guy who I’d not thought about in much depth before but suddenly had reason to. Kittredge was both versatile and dominant in the Mavericks bullpen, the latter reflecting the strikeouts and the former reflecting that he had twenty-five outings of two or more innings plus another two split between in a brief Aquasox and Generals stints. He’s not new to relief or anything, he has just one start among the 113 appearances he’s made so far, but something clicked for him this year to where he became a force and since I’m no longer investigating these things, I guess no one else did either. Going off the stats, the .288/.351/.464 line he had against LHB leaves me less than happy (for comparison, Guaipe was .254/.311/.433), but how much of that is going to be High Desert? Everyone loved Kittredge’s arm in college, the knocks against him were just that he was undersized then and his academics got him un-qualified from the Washington baseball team. I hope to have reason to learn more in the future, but right now I’m just starstruck by that strikeout rate.

RHP Stephen Landazuri, 6’0″, 175 lbs, 1/6/1992
AA: 6-5, 19 GS, 4.06 xRA (4.33 ERA) in 95.2 IP, 78 H (13 HR), 51 R (46 ER), 79/39 K/BB (19.7 K%, 11.7 nB%)
Pros: Lively stuff (low-90s FB, curve, change), absolutely dominant early in the season
Cons: Recent non-pitching injury, sucked in the AFL, dingers?

I’ve gone over some of this before, but to reiterate, Lando ran a 30/3 K/BB and only allowed twelve through his first 23.0 innings spanning four starts. Immediately after that, he tweaked his back and never seemed to get mechanically right after that. Or, more directly, stats post-injury: 3-4, 15 GS, 5.08 ERA in 72.2 IP, 66 H (11 HR), 44 R (41 ER), 49/36 K/BB. Gross. The ‘Ners sent him to the AFL to recover some lost time, but he’s still been off w/r/t command and allowing hits, and without the proper delivery, getting innings is something of a formality. The version of Landzuri that survived the Cal League with good peripherals and marauded the Southern League for four starts is worth protecting, if you think he can do that healthy. If you don’t think that he can be healthy doing that or that this more recent version is the real one, then you’re not going to bother.

CF Leon Landry, L/R, 5’11?, 190 lbs, 9/20/1989
AA: 107 G, 450 PA (421 AB), 60 R, 118 H, 21 2B, 9 3B, 2 HR, 32 RBI, 48/19 K/BB, .280/.315/.387 (.313 wOBA)
Pros: Significant bounce back from last season’s disaster, cut back Ks significantly
Cons: Walks also declined, still the same speed/average skillset as before

You always need catching in the minor leagues, but secondarily, a guy who plays center field is also nice to have around. His first full year after we acquired him for Brandon League, Landry suuuuuccked, but this year he was at least all right and if you take out the April where he batted .147/.216/.162 over 77 PA, all the better (then his line is .305/.332/431!). But we have James Jones around already and he can do a lot of the same things, along with walking and hitting for more power, so I don’t know why I wrote even this much text other than Landry was formerly a part of a Mariners trade and someone could conceivably be wondering. The distant rattle you hear is the sounds of wheels spinning. Those wheels are mine.

1B/RF/3B Jordy Lara, 6’3″, 180 lbs, 5/21/1991
A+: 102 G, 447 PA (339 AB), 77 R, 141 H, 26 2B, 5 3B, 22 HR, 80 RBI, 82/38 K/BB, .409 wOBA (.353/.413/.609)
AA: 33 G, 138 PA (126 AB), 14 R, 36 H, 14 2B, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 19/8 K/BB, .350 wOBA (.286/.326/.492)
Pros: #3 home run hitter in system, #2 SLG, reminds you of Geordi La Forge
Cons: One season of success and faded in double-A, contact-heavy skillset, may be pronounced “Yordy”

Since Lara was a guy who made his name in High Desert, I’ll start with the obvious stuff. At home as a Maverick, he batted .351/.405/.629. On the road, he had more Ks, more walks, and a .355/.420/.589 line. Had I the hours to work on it, which I don’t, I would attempt to parse it out and figure out if he did a lot of his damage in Lancaster or wherever, but for now, let’s say that it’s less of a concern than it might be elsewhere. Likewise, the data is supported by some scouting evidence, Lara was a six-figure signing and I’ve heard that the main reason why he’s been at third for much of the 2014 season is that he was blocked there by better prospects (Peterson, Kivlehan). Lara still strikes out a lot, doesn’t walk too too often, but the power from a guy who could at least spot you now and then at the infield and outfield corners (I wouldn’t call it platoon, his splits are about even), he’s intriguing.

RHP Trevor Miller, 6’3″, 190 lbs, 6/13/1991
AA: 5-8, 31 G (13 GS), 4.42 xRA starting ,3.48 xRA relieving (3.81 ERA combined) in 111.0 IP, 100 H (5 HR), 59 R (47 ER), 86/43 K/BB (18.2 K%, 10.6 nB%)
Pros: Good stuff and good command in flashes
Cons: Not putting the whole package together, or starting full-time

Among the possible pitcher additions I’m talking about, I guess Miller is the least likely guy on the list. Two years ago, he had a 3.9 BB% with twenty-two starts in Clinton and another five in High Desert. No one was amazed by the Ks, but managers liked his command as among the best in the league and word was that his secondary offerings had improved to aid his already passable heater. Since then, his Ks have held about stationary but the walks have regressed to where he’s not interesting anymore. That was the thing he had going for him. Now it isn’t. He’s just interesting enough to warrant some consideration, but when there are twenty-nine other teams who might also have guys who are just interesting enough to consider, eh.

1B/LF Dan Paolini, R/R, 6’0?, 190 lbs, 10/11/1989
AA: 116 G, 476 PA (410 AB), 58 R, 110 H, 34 2B, 3B, 13 HR, 65 RBI, 75/56 K/BB, .268/.360/.451 (.352 wOBA)
Pros: Pretty consistently a .275/.370/.450 player
Cons: One craves dingers from a player who can’t play outside of first and left

While Landry and Paolini stand somewhat close to each other alphabetically and in my overall interest in protecting them, their route to value couldn’t be further apart. As contrast to Landry’s speed, average, and defense, Paolini is mostly a first baseman and left fielder who walks a lot and can sting a ball on occasion. I dig on the walks, definitely, and Paolini has never had a sub-.810 OPS, wow! But, where do you play him? Cano renders any capacity to play second moot, D.J. Peterson is more likely as the 1B of the future, and is he going to dislodge Ackley? I’m not questioning whether he can play left field, well, I am, but Michael Morse and Raul Ibanez. Paolini’s minor league numbers are like those of a poor man’s Edgar. The differentials between his batting average and his on-base percentage or slugging are fine, but the average has never been great and with the translation to the major leagues, what you’re likely looking at is a guy who provides value in fits and starts who, also, happens to have few viable positions. Maybe Lara is better for this general profile, even if his plate discipline is considerably worse.

RHP Jordan Pries, 6’1″, 195 lbs, 1/27/1990
AA: 1-0, 2 GS, 1.04 xRA (1.50 ERA) in 12.0 IP, 3 H (2 HR), 2 R, 9/2 K/BB (23.1 K%, 7.7 nB%)
AAA: 9-8, 24 GS (25 G), 5.68 starting xRA (4.06 ERA) in 142.0 IP, 135 H (14 HR), 66 R (64 ER), 111/53 K/BB (18.6 K%, 10.4 nB%)
Pros: Solid first half, probably the system’s breakout pitcher of the year

One caveat as we get out of the gate here: Pries had one relief outing and it was awful. Six earnies, six hits, a walk and a K and a dinger in two-thirds of a frame. Remove those from the mix and he’s got a 3.69 ERA and you start to look at things like his .246 average against. Here are some other considerations I’d have. One, he had a second-half fade. Pre-ASB, he had a .239 avg against and gave up seven home runs in 93.2 innings. Post-ASB, .283 average against and the same number of home runs in only 48.1 innings. The second is that his SR is rather ordinary. His fastball is only average in velocity and the other pitches in his mix, a slider and a change-up, are unexceptional or else his Ks would be higher. It’s the command and a slightly better-than-average GB rate that keep him afloat. I see him as an emergency starter, although I am vaguely curious about how he’d be in relief. Also, he’s a Stanford grad and a switch-hitter. Good for him.

LHP Jordan Shipers, 5’10”, 170 lbs, 6/27/1991
A+: 2-1, 15 G, 5.19 xRA (2.84 ERA) in 31.2 IP, 39 H (HR), 10 R, 35/10 K/BB (24.3 K%, 8.3 nB%)
AA: 0-3, 12 G (GS), 6.69 xRA relieving (6.55 ERA combined) in 22.0 IP, 25 H (2 HR), 20 R (16 ER), 11/18 K/BB (10.0 K%, 16.4 nB%)
Pros: Now distant positive reports from high school, more recent positive results from Cal League
Cons: Relieving, xRA still hates him, unestablished in high minors

I didn’t expect to be doing this again, but here we are. You know what there is to know about Shipers’ arsenal and signing bonus and vertical challenges, so this year our new data to address is as follows. He started out in double-A and was terrible. He dropped down to High Desert and was great, at least from a runs allowed and K/BB vantage even if xRA just did not jibe with that, which I guess I could see why. Shipers’ line against as a Maverick was .305/.357/.391 and his ERA was below three. Does that make sense to you? It does not to me. On the other hand, his BABIP was .400 while he was there which is way, way, way out of line with career norms which have him hovering below .300 almost everywhere. If I were in charge, which I am not for the record, I would be looking for something from a LH reliever that suggested he could really get LHB out, and sadly, Shipers’ splits are closer to what you’d get excited for out of a starter. So, uh, pass?

RHP Dylan Unsworth, 6’1?, 175 lbs, 9/23/1992
A+: 6-9, 26 GS, 3.92 xRA (5.88 ERA) in 119.1 IP, 153 H (17 HR), 87 R (78 ER), 119/19 K/BB (22.4 K%, 4.7 nB%)
Pros: High-end command, beloved by non-ERA metrics, struck out more this year, “Sharkie”
Cons: Greg Maddux until he’s Mike Maddux

One wants some good things to come of one of the few South African prospects we have left. Unsworth has pitched his way into opportunities thanks to being able to spot the ball wherever which, hilariously, resulted in him having a 56/2 K/BB over 72 innings in 2013. His numbers weren’t so silly this year, but he was also pitching in a rather unpleasant High Desert situation and still managed to increase his strikeouts. He was also much better in the second half (70/6 K/BB in 56.2 IP, .283 avg against) than the first (49/13 K/BB in 62.2 IP, .332 avg against), which is generally what we’ll take as a positive trajectory. It may be that his offspeed pitches have taken those steps forward into being legitimate offerings. But the fastball may also be no better than the mid-to-high 80s it was prior to this year, and if that’s the case, I like him, sure, but he’s not the type of prospect that gets much attention in the Rule 5 anyway.

So, now, I’m supposed to make an evaluation of all this right? I figure Hicks to be a lock. Guaipe, Kittredge, Landazuri, and Lara are in the next tier there, with marks against the two relievers for their split issues and limited utility. Paolini is in a spot just after that. I would be surprised if Unsworth, Pries, Shipers, Miller, or Landry were protected. Blash and Kelly remain wild cards based on organizational priorities.


76 Responses to “’14 40-Man Preview Extravaganza”

  1. Woodcutta on November 18th, 2014 2:03 pm

    If you are going to talk player development then you can’t just use first round picks (or second rounders) as examples. There are many reasons in baseball why a player is picked in the first round over players that are currently better or have a much higher ceiling (asking price, potentially long-term resign-ability, organizational direction, etc.). I wouldn’t limit it the draft but would include international signings, free agent signings, and trades. The M’s, imo, have failed when looking at that entire picture. They have had successes but every team has had successes. The Rays hit on players when they were the worst team in the AL and possibly all of MLB. Teams will hit or miss no matter what they do or don’t do. The difference between the Cardinals of the world and a team like the Mariners is that they have found an organizational philosophy for the current times and have stuck with it even through the failures. They traded Pujols and were better. They just traded Shelby Miller and plugged a huge whole rather quickly after a tragedy. They also teach ALL of their young pitchers certain pitches (changeup?) which is one of the reasons they have such depth at pitcher throughout their organization. Now I will give credit to the coaches in the M’s minors as they appear to be doing a good job with what they have to work with but that isn’t enough for continued success. Something needs to change.

  2. Jay Yencich on November 18th, 2014 3:46 pm

    You’re going to have to point out where I said the Mariners were the best or strongest. I haven’t intended anything of the sort. You’ve said that we’re bad at drafting, I’ve shown data that says that drafting is something even playoff-contending teams have failures at (the first round was a convenient example, but if anyone wants to argue that the later rounds matter as much or more, feel free to look those up, I don’t personally feel the burden of proof is on me anymore). You’ve said we don’t find diamonds in the coal heap, I’ve come up with a handful of all-stars that caught on here without establishing themselves elsewhere. You’ve cited winning percentage, I’ve shown that we have ten+ teams worse off than us in the last twenty+ years. I don’t have any argument against the World Series titles and playoff appearances aside from that an excess of them makes you insufferably entitled, as went my interactions with Yankees fans when I was living in NYC, but that’s about it. What I’ve said has been backed up with objective data. The objective data provided in counter argument is World Series appearances.

    I don’t like the front office we have, except where their goals and mine align (contention, internal development). I would prefer it if other people were in charge. I am envious of the minor league systems deployed by the Braves and the Cardinals. That I acknowledge that other teams have superior operations doesn’t mean I think the Mariners are the worst. That the Angels have Mike Trout doesn’t mean that the Mariners development system is inherently flawed or inferior to that of Anaheim, it just means that the Angels have Mike Trout and boo hoo that we’re not developing once-in-a-generation players when there are dozens of other organizations that are not developing once-in-a-generation players.

    and while I’m here

    They also teach ALL of their young pitchers certain pitches (changeup?) which is one of the reasons they have such depth at pitcher throughout their organization.

    We did that, or tried to when Bryan Price was in charge. Remember that? And then remember in the past year or so when everyone started learning two-seam fastballs?

  3. bluemoonking on November 18th, 2014 4:51 pm

    I agree with everything you have said and have not.

    What you run into out here is that the game is lost on those who (and it’s ok) rather spend time outdoors in the sun during the summer. And fans that really don’t understand the game. These forums give them a means to argue with those that do understand the game and what is wrong with the Mariners.

    The Mariners for the last 15 years have been more worried about fans of the opposition having a good time at the game than winning. To the Mariner front office, it is a product. And they have the right to run their team like that. But with that said it has not been run like a baseball organization and because of that, the product has tended to suffer.

    Again, baseball is a game of talent development and hundreds of players go thru your system to get one to play on a major league level. You need to have people employed by the club that knows baseball and how to win the game. The way to win the game has always been the fundamentals and a style of play. Ask Oakland.

    That said, the Mariners do have a method. It is draft the best you can and wait and see. It is the wait and see part that gets me. I do not have statistics on this but they seem to make the least amount of moves of any team in baseball. That could be because they have not made many good ones. They stay too long with prospects to basically prove a point.

    I am not upset that Anaheim has Trout. I would like to see something in the minors to get excited about. Some can’t miss prospect. I have not seen any in the system and again, was disappointed in what I saw in Arizona. The Mariners do have serviceable players but you don’t win with that.

    So, when the fans talk about last season, for me it was disappointment. I don’t know when Texas or Oakland will be down for a season and Houston is going to be good, if not next year, the year after. The Mariners had the opportunity to do something and it did not happen which is also why Felix lost the Cy Young. Had the Mariners made the playoff’s, it would have been his.

  4. Woodcutta on November 18th, 2014 5:38 pm

    @Jay Yencich

    I was using that as an example of what one of the best run organizations in baseball does to help ensure they stay that way. The M’s don’t have to do the same exact thing. The Cardinals have chosen to do things a certain way and stick to that path. The M’s front office obviously doesn’t know what they are doing in terms of constructing a winning organization in many ways. All you have to look at is the continual mishandling of the 40-man roster over the last few years.

    Player development plays a large role in how drafted players turn out. I’m not arguing that other teams like the Cardinals are perfect but they do know how to run an organization, which includes player development, a whole lot better than the M’s currently do and have in the past.

    The MLB is different from other major sports in that not only are there more players drafted per year, but there is a much larger organizational roster to deal with (among other issues). There will always be more busts in baseball than any other major sport but, imo, that doesn’t give the M’s front office a pass.

  5. mrakbaseball on November 18th, 2014 6:33 pm

    Butler to Oakland, another bat off the market.

  6. bookbook on November 18th, 2014 6:47 pm

    +The Mariners do have serviceable players but you don’t win with that.+

    The 90’s Mariners had four (should be) HOFers in Griffey, A-Rod, Edgar, and Randy Johnson, along with Buhner and Moyer and Dan Wilson. But you don’t win with that, unless you surround them with serviceable players.

    It takes a balance.

    These M’s have role players, they have depth. This means a strong bullpen, legitimate 5th starters, and a few 4th outfielders, at least one of whom is starting every single day–sometimes two.

    Assuming Paxton & Walker are for real (a not inconsiderable assumption, I know) this team is realistically a DH and an outfielder away from having a 3-4 year window where they might be favorites to make the playoffs each year. They even have prospects who might emerge in time to fill those holes (Peterson, Kivlehan, longshots) and they’re looking to fill at least one through trade/FA, which is the right thing right now, even if they can’t be trusted to go for the right guy.

    I hate defending this org, but they’re probably mediocre not terrible right now. That glass may well be two-fifths full.

  7. Longgeorge1 on November 18th, 2014 7:23 pm

    Glad Butler is gone, personally do not like DH/DH/DH players, because if you have enough of them eventually one or two will wind up as a non-DH, See Raul/ Mike Morse. If this team had 4 legit OF and 5 legit IF I might swallow a DH.

  8. bluemoonking on November 19th, 2014 6:11 am

    Yes, you need serviceable players. But the Mariners don’t have a Griffey, A-Rod, or Edgar…

    I am a little tired of comparing current players to the players in the 90’s and early 2000’s. For a team that has been building for quite some time, the cupboard is a little bare.

    Baseball is not golf. You must be better than you opponent. Compare what the Mariners can field against what the other 4 teams can field and that will tell the story.

    The Mariners need good YOUNG prospects, if not from their system than trade or pick up off the wire.

  9. bookbook on November 19th, 2014 9:36 am

    +Yes, you need serviceable players. But the Mariners don’t have a Griffey, A-Rod, or Edgar…+

    Absolutely true. Felix, Cano, Seager is a fine core, but not the quality of the 90’s Mariners.

  10. MrZDevotee on November 19th, 2014 11:26 am

    Comparing Robbie Cano to Bret Boone and trying to picture Cano all roided up with a thick neck and dwarf arms…


  11. Jay Yencich on November 19th, 2014 3:06 pm

    I’ve mostly withdrawn from this conversation as it’s strayed from the original player development thrust (I’m assuming Woodcutta refers to 40-man management as roster construction for the season, not necessarily as protecting the wrong guys or what have you), but I’m going to step back in to chime in with support of some of what bookbook has been saying (particularly the 2/5ths full bit).

    The Royals had Gordon and a bunch of other good but not great players, the Giants had Posey, but were all but carried by Bumgarner in the playoffs. The Pirates had McCutchen and I guess Martin, but their pitching sucked. The Cards had Peralta, Wainwright, and complementary pieces. Meanwhile, the Mariners had two 5.0+ WAR hitters in Seager and Cano and the amazing Felix Hernandez on pitching (6.0+ WAR). There was more value locked up in those three players (16.9 WAR on Fangraphs) than you had in any three players on those four playoff teams.

    Likewise Oakland falls short, even if you’re adding in the WAR generated by Shark in Chicago and Lester in Boston. The Tigers did not have a top three as good as ours (16.4 between Scherzer, Kinsler, Cabrera), nor did the Angels between Trout, Kendrick, and Shoemaker (16.7 WAR). Nor did the Dodgers (Grienke, Kershaw, Puig = 16.2 WAR). Nor did the Orioles (14.2 between Jones, whoever Steve Pearce is, and Cruz). Nor did even the Nats with J. Zimmerman, Rendon, and Werth (16.6).

    Where a lot of those teams absolutely clobbered us is their ability to generate value outside of those top three players. The Dodgers had seven secondary players with 3.0+ WARs. The Nats had five, as did the Motor City Kitties. The Cards had four along with the Royals, the Pirates, three (all hitters), the same being true for the Angels. The Orioles and A’s had two more and the The Giants only had one, but for our purposes, I consider them and the Mariners to be near equivalent. Because the Mariners had one, ‘Kuma. Our most valuable hitter outside of that was Ackley and his 2.1 WAR. Our most valuable pitcher was Elias and his 1.4 (narrowly edging out a shortened Paxton season).

    Based off of all that, I would say that the Mariners problem isn’t star power as much as the fact that there aren’t enough players surrounding the stars we have, particularly in the lineup. That’s the big separator. A healthy Saunders, Paxton, and Walker trio would go a long way towards rectifying that on its own, but we need to get better complementary pieces regardless. We’re not going to be the Dodgers or the Nats out of the gates, but we can at least have as much or more to offer than the teams on the lower end of that spectrum.

  12. Jay Yencich on November 19th, 2014 3:20 pm

    That said, with the ongoing rumors of our courting Russell Martin and wanting to trade for Kemp and Upton again (and Hamilton and Fielder in earlier years), I think that a successful Mariners team at this juncture would succeed because of what it had failed to do elsewhere.

    That’s for any of you that think I’m an org apologist <3

  13. casey on November 19th, 2014 3:44 pm

    I think a 40 man roster discussion is a forward thinking piece – looking at where and if those future MLB pieces are in the hopper. There seem like some who want to turn every discussion about the Mariners into a “they suck and have always sucked” so its a waste of time talking about the M’s unless it is about how they suck.

    A lot of questions about 40 man roster here. Are the M’s drafting the right guys, do the M’s go the safe draft pick route too much, why can’t we develop players like the Cards and Braves. This got me looking at our draft picks since Jack Z arrived in 2009. I looked at 5 years of picks for a number of teams:

    The Mariners have made 54 top 10 picks in that time frame (almost no one after top 10 makes it to the majors). Of 54, 12 have made it to the majors or 22%. Those 12 guys have produced 29 WAR in their short careers (Seager and Ackley the primary guys but Paxton and Walker on the way).

    I compared that to others in the same time frame.

    Best I could find was the Angels who graduated 25% producing 37 WAR (almost all Trout).

    Others were Rangers with only 5 MLB players from 5 year’s drafts producing 1.9 WAR.

    The A’s with 8 players but only 3 WAR. The Astros with 6 players and 8.3 WAR.

    The Cards who we want to be like and are great player developers with 10 graduates and 13 WAR. Braves are decent with 9 players and 23 WAR (mostly the defence of A. Simmons).

    Finally world series champs the Giants with 9 players and 11 WAR and the Royals with 8 players and 6.7 WAR.

    Mariners are clearly doing well in the draft compared to other teams. They would appear to be drafting well, developing those players to the majors and then those players produce value for the team when they are in Seattle. Yep I know about the buts of you need to factor in opportunity, and having top of order draft picks every year, and small sample size of only 5 years (really only 3 years – only 6 graduates from those reviewed from 2012 draft so far).

    And of course many other factors to building a long term successful team such as non-drafted / foreign players, signing productive free agents, trades you make, etc., but it seems like drafting, player development and 40 man roster considerations seem to be going quite well so far in the JackZ era.

  14. Jay Yencich on November 19th, 2014 4:05 pm

    Thanks casey. *high five*

  15. Sowulo on November 19th, 2014 7:13 pm

    This discussion so reminds me of my teammates here in China. I am the only member of my team here from outside of China. (and at 60 years old, the only player over 35!) We have some very talented players who play reasonably well. BUT…..
    Baseball is a game that almost anyone can play. However, it is far more difficult to play very well. Hand-eye coordination, a strong arm and foot-speed will only take you so far. There are so many more nuances to the game. How many fans really understand every position’s responsibility on every play? How many understand that defensive players can know each batter’s tendencies; how and where the pitcher is going to deliver the pitch; etc. I am certainly not the fastest player on my team, but I can play a decent center field because I am very good at anticipating where the ball is likely to be hit.

    So too, there are a lot of fans posting here who know a lot about the game. But few with real hands on coaching experience, who really understand about managing the players and maximizing their contributions. And VERY few who have real knowledge about building and running a professional baseball organization.

    The good news is that there are a few like casey and Jay who “get it” and can temper some of the more emotional posters who think with their ‘fandom’ (good for you!) but sometimes confuse that voice with objectivity.

  16. Longgeorge1 on November 19th, 2014 8:44 pm

    Ok getting away from the M’s suck and always will let’s look at the above players and those on the 40 man, but not the 25 at the end of August.

    Is there a single position player that looks like he will start next year, barring injury or a trade???? Who???? How about make the roster and be a part-timer? ( not an injury sub )

    Are there any pitchers on the 40 who look as though they will take a spot from Felix, Kuma, Young, Elias, Paxton or Walker??? Hultzen might be available mid-season-ish, maybe??

    Carson Smith looks like a good bet in the pen, Mauer is already on the 25 ( I think)

    That’s my objective view, short of FA or trades I hope you liked this years team because I see little on the farm to change it.

  17. bookbook on November 20th, 2014 8:40 am

    Hey, Longgeorge1, we agree. Significant improvements to the 2015 team are unlikely to come from the minors. (Of course, I didn’t expect to see Elias or James Jones in 2014, so what do I know?)

    I could see Hicks as backup catcher by midsummer, and Kivlehan or Peterson before the end of the year.

    Hopefully, the M’s can find a solid bat or three via FA/trade, and the young veterans find some improvement & greater playing time ( Miller, Zunino, Paxton, Walker) for 2014.

  18. Jay Yencich on November 20th, 2014 7:06 pm

    Mayckol Guaipe, John Hicks, and (surprise) Ketel Marte. Those are your names.

    So, Ketel Marte. Marte is a contact-oriented switch-hitting shortstop with predominantly doubles power. He strikes out maybe a little more frequently than peers with the same profile. Hit .313/.367/.450 in Tacoma this year (90 PA) and .298/.325/.400 in Jackson (472 PA). Turned 21 a month ago. He runs well and had twenty-nine stolen bases and was successful three out of every four tries. Defensive reports are mixed, some think that he has the arm and range to play short, but he’s been a second baseman for much of his career. Some are not so glowing about his defense and describe his approach on the field as somewhat passive.

  19. Woodcutta on November 20th, 2014 9:25 pm


    I’m not thinking with my “fandom”. I have seen the M’s front office do things they just shouldn’t do (things perennial playoff teams don’t do) over and over again. I mentioned before the continual bungling of the 40-man roster (Brandon Bantz anyone?) over the years and that is just one glaring example. They have also made a habit of rushing guys to the majors way too early and also allowing players to “play through” an injury when it is apparent they shouldn’t be close to the field let alone on it. I may not know all the ins and outs when it comes to running a team but I do know there are many options that are much better than who the M’s currently employ.

  20. LongDistance on November 20th, 2014 10:25 pm

    Woodcutta. Thanks for that. Fact is, here on USS Mariner, although people sometimes strongly disagree with each other, it’s generally meant with a sincere spirit of debate offered politely, if sometimes strongly and with varying degrees of humor, anger, snark, thoughtfulness, cynicism, hope, disappointment, surprise, mortification, delight. Without denigrating anybody’s capabilities.

    Anyway, there’s been something wrong, and for a long time, about what this club has been doing. For quite a while, in terms of the revenue stream, it was basically a baseball problem, but lately with the half empty stadium, that problem has spilled over into a problem with the business model.

    Baseball’s a business based on entertainment. When it isn’t entertaining anymore, your revenues drop. Which means your business model… if it doesn’t suck exactly, at least can be considered inept. Whatever this ineptitude consists of (some of us have an idea), they managed to tweak it, albeit pretty expensively (and which had zero to do with minor league development), in 2014. But that tweak, we can agree, won’t carry over.

  21. JasonJ on November 21st, 2014 10:10 am

    So…no off-season plan/write-up from Dave this year eh? I can’t say I’m surprised but was always an enjoyable read.

  22. mrakbaseball on November 23rd, 2014 8:30 pm

    Well, scratch Hanley Ramirez off your free agent wish list, looks like he’s off to Boston.

  23. groundzero55 on November 24th, 2014 9:50 am

    We just locked up Seager for 7 years, 100mil with an option for year 8. Bargain, in my opinion and looks like he’ll be a career Mariner. GREAT move.

  24. qwerty on November 24th, 2014 11:10 am

    USSM, no postings for 10 days? You’re no longer my ‘go to’ site….This is the time of year you’re needed more than ever.

  25. mrakbaseball on November 24th, 2014 12:25 pm

    Everybody graduated.

  26. Longgeorge1 on November 24th, 2014 1:29 pm

    Love the Seagar signing. The “news” makes itself guys. As long as I can annoy a few people this time of year I am happy.

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