Game 93, Mariners at Tigers

marc w · July 20, 2015 at 3:45 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

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
SP: Happ

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.


14 Responses to “Game 93, Mariners at Tigers”

  1. Sportszilla on July 20th, 2015 4:20 pm

    I almost totally agree with you with regards to Cano, and I think that if Dave were to do this list after the year is over, he might well change the order up. There’s at least a decent chance that Cano’s first-half struggles were bad-luck and injury related, and while the decline will come (and may already have started), he’s declining from an awfully high plateau, while players like Andrus and Porcello have never actually been all that good. Andrus is basically a slightly above replacement level player making more money than Kyle Seager, and that’s in many ways a worse contract than Cano’s, even if the sheer math of surplus value doesn’t quite agree. Remember, Andrus also takes up a roster spot.

  2. Ty on July 20th, 2015 4:53 pm

    I’m not sure how Morrison didn’t score on that moonshot to center by Zunino (ZUNINO!). It must have bounced back fifty feet before the Tiger outfield corralled it. I get that there was one out, but come on. If Morrison was within 15 feet of second when that ball hit the wall, he could have made it standing up.

  3. Westside guy on July 20th, 2015 5:14 pm

    If you assume a team only has so much money to spend – which is a reasonable assumption, obviously – then the total amount of dollars owed has to come into consideration.

    Unless the player is guaranteed a roster spot, which is never the case, the fact tha “he takes up a roster spot” doesn’t really factor into it. He can be cut.

  4. Westside guy on July 20th, 2015 5:38 pm

    If he keeps doing THAT, though, it’ll be a moot point!


  5. msfanmike on July 20th, 2015 6:54 pm

    Zunino sure didn’t do a very good job of framing that last pitch to Ian Kinsler.

    I do think that the bottom of the 8th almost walk-offs are easier to digest than the real walk-offs, though.

  6. bluemoonking on July 20th, 2015 7:01 pm


  7. Westside guy on July 20th, 2015 7:39 pm

    Mariners are 10 back and have the worst record in the AL. How long do you let Jack stay in charge?

  8. WestyHerr on July 20th, 2015 8:20 pm

    I’m visiting Montana.. was at a brewery and I got my first introduction to ROOT sports. I don’t mean to be flippant, disingenuous or disparaging .. but what the hell is that crap? Is it a channel? It runs like a propaganda arm of a fascist regime. They just show home runs (probably solo in losses) from this season and ’95 highlights. I can’t imagine having to be subjected to such abbreviated analysis and docile, submissive nostalgia night after night. A smiling Lloyd McClendon means we are winning the war.

  9. Westside guy on July 20th, 2015 8:33 pm

    The broadcasters for ROOT are Mariners employees, and the team owns a controlling stake in the network.

  10. eponymous coward on July 20th, 2015 9:18 pm

    Mariners are 10 back and have the worst record in the AL. How long do you let Jack stay in charge?

    End of the season, hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back no more…

  11. eponymous coward on July 20th, 2015 9:28 pm

    I think the nightmare scenario goes something like this: the M’s tear up the back half of their schedule (relatively) thanks to weak, below-.500 competition, and, while not getting in the race, they end up 82-80 or thereabouts.

    Management ignores the expectations going in, declares victory, points out back to back above .500 years, and we’re back with the same crew in 2016…

  12. eponymous coward on July 20th, 2015 9:33 pm

    And before some smartass brings up 1995:

    You know what the Mariners weren’t in July 1995?

    In last place in the American League.

    Season low games below .500 was 3 on August 4. On that day, they were 3,5 games behind the Yankees. That was on game 91 of that season.

  13. LongDistance on July 20th, 2015 11:30 pm

    Putting everything aside, if the M’s performance carries through the rest of the season with pretty much the same trajectory, I’d be very surprised to see them giving Jack Zduriencik another go next winter. He’s done what he’s done, and unlucky for him his legacy looks to be early days blown prospects which didn’t develop for some reason, and latter day, expensive desperation gambits that collectively didn’t have enough tread on them.

    But it’s a good question: would they keep him if the M’s strung together, from here on in, several +3 streaks and crawled back up into being some sort of .500 team? You’d think not, but what do I know? In any case, it now makes another consideration maybe more pertinent. Two years ago, when Cano came in, my feeling (and I certainly wasn’t alone) was that they had two years to try to profit from that contract before the air started leaking out. And they tried. And it sort of worked last year, but what worked last year isn’t sort of working consistently this year. So it suddenly makes you think down the road, like Dave did, looking at heavy contract burdens.

    For myself, if their goal is to draw attendance by fielding winning teams which look to content in 2016 and beyond, Jack now has them in a position where there isn’t anything they can do except sort of go insane (for them) and spend like money is going out of style.

    What a hole. In a way it’s worse than Bavasi.

  14. seattleslew on July 21st, 2015 8:45 am

    Flexibility is how you stay relevant. Giving Cano 240 million essentially closed that door. We knew it, but we’re at the mercy of an inept front office… again. Bargain hunt for value and find or develop players that get on base. The M’s have been relatively poor at accomplishing both of these things. Mark Trumbo? Are you kidding me? He’s the last player the Mariners should’ve been looking at, but it was a typical move for the front office.

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