Game 93, Mariners at Tigers
JA Happ vs. Alfredo Simon, 4:05pm
With yesterday’s dispiriting loss in the Bronx, the M’s moved into a share of the AL cellar. Not the AL West, mind you, the whole thing. Yes – the M’s are less than 10 out of first in the West, and thanks to a virulent strain of parity, they’re less than 10 out of the Wild Card race too, but… the M’s (and A’s) are behind the Chicago freaking White Sox and the dysfunctional Boston Red Sox…as well as every other team in the AL. Today, Fangraphs and our erstwhile leader Dave Cameron dubbed the Robinson Cano contract the worst in baseball. It’s been…it’s not been the best day to be an M’s fan.
First off, the M’s have recalled JA Happ to start tonight against the Detroit Tigers, who are hemorrhaging runs in recent weeks. Justin Verlander (another of the worst contracts in baseball) is back, but not, you know, BACK, and we saw the soft underbelly of the Tigers rotation when they were in Seattle recently. This is one of many AL teams who looks beatable and flawed, but will almost certainly finish ahead of Seattle. Alfredo Simon, the splitter-throwing righty, was bad against Seattle but got the win at Safeco a few weeks back. Since then, he was knocked out of his next start in the 3rd by the Twins. These are winnable games against mediocre opponents, but it’s something the M’s have struggled to do. 2015 CC Sabathia (yet ANOTHER of the worst contracts) is no longer an average, forget about top-flight, starter, but he looked it against the M’s. The M’s hit Simon fairly well, but couldn’t turn it into a victory. The M’s are almost certainly not as bad as they’ve looked, but they’ve looked soooo, sooo bad that that’s damning with faint praise.
But I’d like to deal with Dave’s “The Bottom Five” article for a bit, too. Clearly, Dave was never a fan of the Cano contract, and with this season going the way it has, you can make a case that a player owed that much for that long *has* to be the worst contract in baseball. Personally, I think it depends heavily on how you weight this season. To me, large contracts for demonstrably bad players are much, much worse than a big commitment to a star, even a star who’s not playing well. The problem is, every big contract goes to a star – the question is, how do we determine when someone falls from the stellar ranks? Obviously, it depends a lot on health and position. A pitcher with an amazingly consistent track record *still* looks bad if he’s owed tons of money and is going in for major shoulder reconstruction. A slow 1B can look terrible if he tanks in his 20s, while a speedy CF could still theoretically add value in other ways. Albert Pujols ranks #5 on the list right now. He’s putting up a very good year, and as Dave mentions, has a shot to hit 40 HRs for the team that recently overtook the Astros for the divisional lead. His contract is back-loaded and scary, but is this a contract the Angels are killing themselves for offering? If they wanted to move him, they’d probably have to kick in some money, sure, but the point is, they probably aren’t really interested right now. Contrast that with Elvis Andrus, a hitter who simply failed to develop and who’s seen his bat AND defense atrophy over time. The Rangers, who are a bit closer to contention than I thought, would probably love to move him and eliminate a black hole in their line-up, but the upside here just isn’t there. Now, of those two poles – the productive-but-highly-paid star or ex-star vs. the long-term-extension-that-just-didn’t-pan-out scrub – which do you think Robinson Cano is closer to? Dave factors in Cano’s edge in, you know, baseball playing ability, but to him, it can’t outweigh the cost difference (the term of Cano’s deal is actually the same as Andrus’…ha ha ha ha!). To me, a rebound to 3.6-3 WAR with some upside for more makes the next few years a bit easier to take. The backside of the deal is bad, and there’s nothing to be done about that. But if the M’s get actual production from Cano in the medium term, and if he’s a part of the next good M’s club, that back end gets a lot easier to deal with. It’s the Choo, Andrus and (maybe) Porcello deals that seem much worse to me. Overpaying for production is often a necessity in baseball. Overpaying for nothing is not. Please be healthy again, Robbie.
1: Miller, SS
2: Seager, 3B
3: Cruz, RF
4: Cano, 2B
5: Smith, LF
6: Jackson, CF
7: Trumbo, DH
8: Morrison, 1B
9: Zunino, C
Happ was recalled from some a paper simulation of Bakersfield to make this start. Jesus Montero’s been sent back to AAA.
Speaking of AAA, Sacramento won the final game of their 4-game set 7-6. Sacto’s Adam Duvall hit two HRs in the game. Forrest Snow squares off with Alex Sanabia (the former Miami Marlin) of Salt Lake to kick off a series with the Bees at Cheney tonight.
Jackson and Mobile were scratched due to rain. Moises Hernandez gets the start tonight as the Generals start a series with the Mississippi Braves.
Stockton knocked Bakersfield around 8-3, with Tyler Pike giving up 5 runs in less than 3 IP. Tim Lopes tripled for the Blaze. Brett Ash will share the mound with Raul Alcantara of Stockton tonight.
Clinton attempted a late rally but fell a run short in a 4-3 loss to Beloit. Tyler Herb took the loss. Kristian Brito had three hits for the L-Kings, and his recent run of form has brought his seasonal OPS over .600 on the year. It’s…it’s been that kind of a year. Clinton had an early game today and lost 5-1. Jarrett Brown started and got knocked out in the 2nd.
Everett beat Hillsboro 14-6. Luiz Gohara wasn’t great, but got plenty of run support and didn’t walk anyone in his 6 IP. CF Luis Liberato, who’d looked so good in the early-going before missing a few weeks after a hit-by-pitch, played his second straight game and drove in a run. Darin Gillies gets the start tonight for Everett.