Carson Smith and Roenis Elias Swapped for Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro

marc w · December 7, 2015 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

In my post about Hisashi Iwakuma’s departure in free agency, I said that some would say that the move (or non-move, rather) can only be seen in context, and to properly judge it, we’d need to see Jerry Dipoto’s Plan B. As I was pressing ‘post’ on that one, Dipoto was unveiling that plan B by finalizing a trade with Boston, headlined by lefty starter Wade Miley. So there you go, context-hounds. We now have more information, and can say that it’s not just Iwakuma for payroll flexibility and a comp. pick. It’s Hisashi Iwakuma, Carson Smith and Roenis Elias for Wade Miley, Jonathan Aro and a comp. pick. There, doesn’t that…no? That doesn’t make you feel any better?

To be fair: Dipoto doesn’t consider this plan B. Take it away, Jerry:

It’s not Plan B, it’s Plan 1-A once Iwakuma left. “That’s just re-defining what ‘Plan B’ means!” you shout, correctly. So it is, but it’s nice to hear some confidence about exactly how the M’s wanted to respond: “This was the preferred route.” So who is Wade Miley, and why is this route so attractive? Miley’s a left-handed starter who’s been remarkably durable, tossing at least 193 IP in each of the last four years. He throws a fastball in the 91-92mph range, has a change-up and then a slider and curve. Coming up, he leaned more on the curve, but has increasingly shifted to the slider as his primary breaking ball. As you’d expect, he faces quite a few right-handers, so he’s thrown the change-up more than either of his breakers in recent years.

In an ironic inversion of Iwakuma’s FIP-mastery, Miley’s “undervalued” in part because of his *inability* to pitch to his FIP. After sticking close to his FIP in 2012 and 2013, Miley’s ERA was significantly worse in 2014 and, especially, 2015. In part, that’s BABIP related, as he’s allowed BABIPs north of .300 in both years, and his career mark is now above league average. His K rate is below average as well, at around 17-18%. He managed to get it as high as 21% in his final year with the Diamondbacks, but it fell, as you’d expect, with the move to the American League. He’s below average by o-Swing (swings at pitches out of the zone), and thus his contact rate’s a bit worse than average as well. Thanks mostly to his change and slider, Miley gets his fair share of ground balls, which helps him keep the ball in the park – he gave up only 17 HRs last year despite being a lefty in Boston.

Still, there’s a reason he’s a “buy-low” candidate. He had a 4.80 ERA in the first half last year, and his seasonal mark was 4.46. Given the park, that’s not awful, but it’s still 6% above league average, slightly better than the 14% below average mark he turned in for Arizona in 2014. In his “good” second half with Boston, his BABIP stayed about where it was, despite the Sox giving Hanley Ramirez less time in LF. His K:BB ratio got better, but he still gave up plenty of runs. And that brings us to another reason he isn’t Iwakuma: with men on, Miley’s pitched worse. For his career, batters are putting up a .310 wOBA with no one on, and .336 with men on base. In 2015, those figures are .310 and .340, respectively. Again, for reference, in Iwakuma’s career, batters hit .292 with the bases empty and .278 with men on.’s just…something in my eye. :sniff:

It’s easy, and, considering the context of the past 12-24 hours, tempting to overemphasize Miley’s weaknesses. He put up 4.1 fWAR in 2012 for Arizona. He’s 29 this season, and he’s signed to an extremely team-friendly deal that’ll pay him just shy of $15m for 2016 and 2017 combined. The M’s also get his $12m team option for 2018. That’s great for a guy projected for just under league average for 2016, and if you squint, there’s some room for optimism there given his new park and the defense behind him. His history of underperforming his FIP is less conclusive than Iwakuma’s history of OUTperforming it, so maybe DIPS will help us out. Given the contract, it’s harder to even call this a buy-low situation – it’s more like taking advantage of loss-aversion, where Boston’s sense of Miley’s value may be influenced by a bad year, while Seattle is looking at the larger picture of expected contribution versus guaranteed outlay.

The problem is not that I think Miley’s bad. I saw him in AAA in what had been a disappointing year for him (this was 2011) and thought he’d be good. The durability is a clear plus, and it’s the one area where he’s head and shoulders above Iwakuma. The problem here is what it cost the M’s. The M’s sent lefty Roenis Elias east, and while many on Twitter believe Elias is straight-up better than Miley, I’m not among them. I would note that there are “team friendly contracts” and then there are pre-arb contracts like Elias’ that pay around the league minimum. That’s gotta be attractive to the team that just committed hundreds of millions to David Price.

And then there’s the fact that Elias – whose production is just slightly behind Miley’s on a rate basis in their Steamer projections – isn’t even the centerpiece of the deal for Boston. That’s not my read of it, that’s Dipoto’s. The M’s didn’t just send a cost-controlled starter, they sent their cost-controlled bullpen ace, Carson Smith. As an early Smith fan and president-for-life of the Carson Smith fanclub, I want to acknowledge that I may be biased here. I know the M’s got a righty bullpen arm in return, and that Jonathan Aro has pleasant minor league K rates and the like. But a bullpen isn’t – or shouldn’t – be an assemblage of K rates. A great bullpen should have a balanced set of skills, so that there’s an arm that can excel in any number of situations. Carson Smith is an elite – unquestionably elite – arm against right-handers, and he’s elite if the situation calls for a ground ball. The M’s bullpen clearly don’t have anyone as good against righties at the moment, and there’s no one in the same zip code as Smith if you’re up 1 in the 8th with the bases loaded and 1 out.*

I understand completely that Smith bombed out as closer, and that his results went south right when his velocity dipped in July. But the idea that Smith is or will be damaged goods isn’t air-tight. First, by Fangraphs’ velocity numbers, Smith’s velo drop looks especially dire. In July, Fangraphs had Smith’s FB velo down about 2 MPH from his April through June average. This coincided with some awful appearances, so it was definitely a concern. Still, there are two problems. First, Smith started throwing a change-up more in the second half to attempt to deal with the increasing numbers of lefties he was facing. MLBAM didn’t know he was throwing a change, and by movement, you can see why: it just wasn’t that different from his sinker. As a result, Fangraphs shows him throwing a lot more “sinkers” and a lot fewer “change-ups” than Brooks Baseball, and the reason is MLBAM miscoded a couple dozen cambios. Second, by Brooks, his velo mostly bounced back in September. I don’t want to oversell this: Smith had a velo drop in July, and his velo was inconsistent from game to game thereafter. But the idea that Smith’s velo just tanked in the second half is wrong.

So, can Jonathan Aro be another Carson Smith? No, I know we’re supposed to say that there are no stupid questions, but that…that is not a good question. Aro throws from a somewhat similar low 3/4 arm slot, though it’s not quite as sidearm. Instead of Smith’s sinking, buckets-of-armside-run fastball, Aro uses a four-seamer that gets above-average *vertical* movement. He’s got a change, but his outpitch was supposed to be a slider. He only threw 22 of them in the bigs, so we can’t say much, but this pitch generated zero whiffs and had 5+” of vertical movement. The different arm action makes a straight comparison pointless, but Smith’s slider dives well below 0 in vertical movement, and it’s a big reason why he runs GB% in the 65% range. Aro’s GB% – in 10 innings, of course – was 16.2%. Even in the minors, Aro is an extreme fly-ball pitcher. You can see what Dipoto’s thinking, given the ballpark and the OF defense he’s assembling, and you may think fly-balls-in-Safeco is the new market inefficiency, but they didn’t get a Carson Smith replacement, they got the opposite of Carson Smith.

Okay, we know who Aro *isn’t* and *won’t* be, but who does he remind you of? Vertical movement of 5″ on a slider is actually pretty rare, so we can narrow things down quickly. There’s one pitcher who throws a fastball with very similar movement and a slider that’s almost a dead ringer to Aro’s. Meet Athletics bullpen stalwart Evan Scribner. Scribner does some things very well: Scribner’s K-BB% is elite – fractionally ahead of Carson Smith’s – not only because he strikes out more than a batter per inning, but because he never, ever walks anyone. Seriously, Scribner goes months between walks, and has 4 BBs in the last 72 IP covering two seasons. Aro didn’t have THAT kind of control in the minors, but his BB rates were very low in AAA and in low-A. The problem Scribner has, and one that Aro shows signs of as well, is the long ball. Scribner gave up more HRs than any reliever in baseball last year, and while Aro didn’t show any HR-issues in the minors, he did in his cup of coffee. Aro and Scribner trade whiffs for fly balls by throwing up in the zone and having a slider that’s easier to elevate. You can do some great things with that, but HRs will be a perennial worry. Scribner’s essentially replacement level DESPITE an utterly bonkers K:BB ratio because of this. Jonathan Aro is not doomed to repeat Scribner’s mistakes, but he’ll have to figure something out.

The M’s seemed to give up an awful lot when you consider the pre-arb contracts Smith and Elias were on. Miley has the most experience and is better than he showed for Boston last year, but this deal stings. Dipoto told Bob Dutton that he preferred Miley to grabbing a free agent pitcher and sacrificing their first-round pick, but the past 24 hours makes you think more and more that Dipoto didn’t really HAVE that option. A few posts back, I mentioned that the M’s needed to fill out their roster and make a push given their average age. Dipoto’s first few moves were for mid-career guys, not youngsters, and dealing Smith/Elias pushes them more and more in that direction. Given the amount committed to Felix, Seager, Cano and Cruz, though, that was going to be tough. Either the M’s would need to open their pocketbook a bit more, or the M’s would need to trade to fill in their missing pieces. Letting Iwakuma walk because you couldn’t extend him a third year and then giving up a solid return for Miley suggests that the M’s simply didn’t have enough to sign mid-tier guys, and the flurry of trades kind of corroborates that. I don’t know the constraints Dipoto is operating under, so it feels uncharitable to castigate the man about this deal, but it’s been a bad day to be an M’s fan.

* The M’s apparently extended a NRI invite to Donn Roach, so there’s your extreme ground ball guy. I’ve liked Roach for years, and it’s a good move, but Roach is no Carson Smith.


32 Responses to “Carson Smith and Roenis Elias Swapped for Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro”

  1. Westside guy on December 7th, 2015 6:36 pm

    It would be too bad – and, incidentally, fit the mental narrative many of us have with regards to Mariners’ ownership – if Dipoto hasn’t been given enough payroll flexibility to try and make a legitimate playoff run during the rapidly-closing window framing the contracts of Cruz, Cano, and perhaps Felix.

  2. bseblfevr on December 7th, 2015 7:32 pm

    ok, I was going along with the Dipoto thinking on prior moves, then the Trumbo give away started to get to me. Now, this trade makes little sense. We are now getting older, have less control over players, and are paying bigger salaries out. We have traded away just about everyone anyone will take…now what? What do we have to trade for Lind? Who is the bullpen …an old Benoit?…will Furbush get traded for Lind? What was out weakest spot last year…the bullpenl !! and now the two best pieces are gone Carson and Wilhemsen. This might be the dumbest move in years.

  3. bongo on December 7th, 2015 9:55 pm

    I can’t say that I’m very enthusiastic about Miley. It seems hard to argue that Miley is better than JA Happ who provided 3.0 WAR in 2015 (most of it for the Pirates). We were able to pick up Happ in exchange for Michael Saunders – so why did we need to send the Bosox Elias *and* Carson Smith? I just hope that Jonathan Aro turns out to be a serviceable reliever. It’s not like there’s a lot of bullpen help available in Tacoma.

  4. marc w on December 7th, 2015 10:28 pm

    Reading all of the ‘the Red Sox bullpen looks amazing!’ stories isn’t helping me feel better about this deal. It may work out; I hope to link to this two years from now in one of those mea culpa posts.

  5. MrZDevotee on December 7th, 2015 10:44 pm

    I like this move for two reasons:

    1) Money/WAR: More and more I’ve been sold on the buying WAR where there’s value to get better… This is EXACTLY behind this move. To “lose” this trade, you have to believe that Miley will be less than 1/2 as valuable as Kuma this season… Last season Kuma was worth 1.8 WAR throwing 129 innings (3 WAR, 179 innings in 2014)… Wiley, in Fenway Park as a lefty, threw to 2.6 WAR, in 193 innings (1.6 WAR, 201 innings in 2014). He should do better in Safeco, with a better defense.

    We’re getting him for half the price of Kuma, per season. For possibly MORE WAR on the season, dependent on pitching more innings. And that frees up $7.5 million in payroll for other improvements too, where it was beginning to look like we might be hitting a payroll wall…

    There was never a guarantee Kuma was coming back, especially as the starter market developed (take a look at Happ’s new contract, 3 years/36 million)… So we end up with value, team control, an innings eater, and a 50/50 (if not better) shot at more WAR from Miley…

    2) Bullpen Volatility- Nobody needs an explanation here, given the variance in the Mariners 2014 and 2015 bullpen stats, with basically the same guys throwing. The bet Dipoto is making is that Carson Smith just had his best season as a reliever, before MLB hitters had a chance to figure him out. He may maintain that prowess, sure, but as even Jack Z was able to show, putting together workable bullpens is not the most difficult challenge in baseball. If you believe the value of Miley outlined above, we just traded a late innings reliever for a 200 innings a season starter. That doesn’t happen very often in baseball.

  6. groundzero55 on December 8th, 2015 1:13 am

    I really have to hope we aren’t done, regardless of what Dipoto has to say about it. This rotation needs another arm – after the talk about an expanded payroll, is this really it? Is there really nobody out there worth giving up a comp pick?

  7. PackBob on December 8th, 2015 3:56 am

    Iwakuma and Smith were just fun to watch, win, lose, or draw, and I will miss that. Maybe this improves the team, maybe not, but I doubt I will have as much interest watching a start by Miley relieved by Aro as I did for Iwakuma with Smith coming in.

  8. Notfromboise on December 8th, 2015 5:01 am

    Miley gets hit a lot. A whole lot. But he does have his flashes of brilliance. It just really hurts to give up both Elias and Carson Smith. Yeah, Elias was out of options, but he could have been pieced into a trade for Lind.

    As a Blazer fan, I won’t yell at Dipoto over Iwakuma for the same reason I didn’t yell at Olshey over Aldridge leaving town. Some times players just get offered a much better situation and take it. It happens.

    We simply could not rely on Walker and Paxton to put together 200 innings each, and this was the route we had to take to solidify the rotation. I thought going into the off-season that Iwakuma was going to be a big ‘get’ if we retained him, sadly that did not happen.

    We’re going to hit a ton better. We’re going to field a ton better. We’re going to have solid starting pitching, with Walker and Paxton set to take some real leaps finally.

    Bullpens in shambles, 1B is a disaster. Free agency is not over yet. Lets do this.

  9. djw on December 8th, 2015 6:26 am

    MrZDevotee: you’re evaluating the trade with no reference whatsoever to the value of one of the players we gave up, and downplaying the value of the other by assuming the worst possible outcome for him going forward (which is possible! So are lots of other outcomes! You have to consider the likelihood of all of them, not assume the one that makes the trade make sense). I don’t understand that.

    The proper comparison isn’t Iwakuma for 15 m. in 2016–something we never had–but what we did have. Elias’ projected FIP 4.35; Miley’s 3.80. Is that half a run in FIP (and Aro) worth the extra 6 million, plus two additional years of team control, plus 4-5 years of team control for an excellent reliever? It’s hard for me to see how it could be by standard WAR accounting.

    The only way to sell the deal as a rational move, it seems to me, is to argue Elias and/or Smith are damaged goods in some way not showing up in their statlines. The case for Smith as damaged goods is dispensed with nicely in this post. I haven’t even heard such a case for Elias being damaged goods.

    I don’t see how narrative about starting pitchers being overvalued can be used to downplay the seeming folly of this trade, since Elias is a starting pitcher as well. Unless there’s a problem with Elias or Smith beyond what we know, this is a straightforward case of giving more than you get.

  10. Rengaw on December 8th, 2015 6:38 am

    Watching Elias struggle in Tacoma last season gave me little faith he would ever be a solid starter for the Mariners any time soon.
    Carson Smith, on the other hand, could usually get good hitters out in tough situations with two nasty pitches. That funky delivery appeared to stiffen up the end of the season as he fell behind in the count way too much.
    If Miley can win half his games and chew up close to 200 innings, I would say the trade served it’s purpose. There is the possibility that Miley could throw more innings than Smith and Elias combined.
    Of course, all of Dipoto’s moves are not going to work out and this one may not. But, so far, he seems to have definite ideas about players he likes and those that are expendable. Come spring training, we can definitely say this is Dipoto’s team and not Jackie Z’s.

  11. MrZDevotee on December 8th, 2015 8:34 am

    “I don’t see how the narrative about starting pitchers being overvalued can be used to downplay the seeming folly of this trade”.

    The narrative is that we need to replace Kuma, and that should cost about $15 million typically (or over $20 million if you’re presuming Kuma returns to 2.5-3 WAR levels. What we “did have” is sort of irrelevant once the situation becomes one where we don’t have Kuma, and need starting pitching. If we can buy back that lost 2.5 WAR by spending 7.5 on a 1.5 WAR starting pitcher, and get 1 WAR somewhere else for the saved 7.5 million, we’ve lessened the blow. Would I RATHER have Kuma and Carson Smith? Sure… But that scenario no longer existed.

    And I wasn’t ignoring Elias anymore than you’re ignoring an unknown quantity in Aro (dice roll, sure…). AND an unknown quantity in what the freed up 7.5 million is going to afford us. My whole point is that this move opens up an opportunity for a whole new player to enter the equation (I don’t think it’s a leap to assume something around 1B) and whatever WAR he provides.

    As for Smith– I wasn’t at all assuming worst possible outcome. Saying he just had his best year, is not to say I’m assuming worst possible outcome next year. It simply means some might think he won’t maintain the height of swing and misses he had during his first 2 seasons with a quite unhittable pitch. (I think of Lincecum, with his unique pitches, and where he is now). MLBers have seen that pitch for 3 or 4 innings so far, in most instances, so (unlike most Mariners prospects we’ve seen) I’m presuming real MLBers will get better at picking it up and putting it in play. I’m not suggesting he’ll suck moving forward, I’m suggesting the league will adjust moving forward.

    And I don’t think it takes damaged goods to make this a good move. The Mariners are not in a vacuum. And these individual players are not in a vacuum either. We suddenly desperately needed starting pitching, to go with a huge need for a 1B, when we were running out of $$$’s and flexibility. To make that happen, we had to give up something other teams wanted, in Carson Smith. Roenis Elias ends up being an overpay, but he also ends up being a 40 man roster spot opened up, which was getting more difficult as the moves piled up. And he’s as volatile as most bullpen arms– he’s had a decent number of starts, with incredibly mixed results.

    We have a new GM, who prefers trading to free-agent signings (for $$$’s reasons), who is trying to rebuild the roster. While that method saves money, it also means you don’t get to keep all your best players, and only get rid of bad players. We both know you can’t make trades that way. And as an organization still shell shocked from the Bavasi era, and a bunch of the Z moves, it’s a bit scary.

    Screen name aside, I’m ready to try a seismic shift in roster building from the past 6 years. If Miley can pitch 200 innings, and go .500 or better (his career averages, WITH Fenway in there), we patched a huge hole that recently opened in our rotation– and created roster/finance flexibility in the process.

    Given the MAD jump in starting pitcher prices over the past 2 weeks, I’m not sure what a better move would have been– as far as either free agency (which would be impossible) OR a better starter we could have traded for while giving up a lesser pair of players?

  12. heyoka on December 8th, 2015 8:39 am

    With moves like this, the only conclusion I can come to is that Dipoto has a time machine, has visited the future, and returned to be the M’s GM.
    He has insight no one else does, which is why these moves don’t make sense on the surface, but will totally make sense once we see the results.

    We will see proof of this in next year’s draft when all the uncanny 37th round picks that turn out to be unlikely superstars are actually 36th round picks made by Dipoto.

    …Like Bif when he found the 80s almanac in back to the future 2.

  13. MrZDevotee on December 8th, 2015 8:54 am

    Much like sunken costs in economic terms, baseball should have a situation known as “sunken opportunity”…

    I think it’s a fallacy to compare a player lost in free agency to what you replace him with… Once the player is gone, his remaining is no longer a realistic scenario to compare. The real comparison is what you replace him with, versus the other possibilities on the market/via trade at the time. THAT is where I like this move, and think Dipoto performed pretty admirably– especially given the timing, and the feeding frenzy going on at the Winter Meetings.

    And again, sure I’d rather still have Kuma and Smith. Definitely. But with Kuma no longer available, that was a “sunken opportunity”.

  14. Jensen22 on December 8th, 2015 9:11 am

    Does this move open up the possibility for a run at Kenta Maeda? It is rumored he wants to play on the West Coast. A rotation of Felix, Maeda, Miley, Walker, Paxton / Karns seems to be pretty solid.

  15. Hutch on December 8th, 2015 9:23 am

    This whole offseason starts to make a lot more sense if all these savings (Miley’s contract represents pretty significant savings compared to what his FA equivalent, Mike Leake, is going to cost) is redirected towards a significant upgrade at OF, SP or 1B. If they dumpster dive to fill the remaining holes, I’m going to be pretty disappointed in the organization as a whole.

  16. ck on December 8th, 2015 9:30 am

    Moves in context…Hisashi Iwakuma, Roenis Elias, Carson Smith, and Tom Wilhelmsen are known values that other teams coveted. ( as were Happ and Mark Lowe ) Miley, Karns, Benoit, Bass, all have a ‘baseball card’ as Lloyd was wont to say, and I pray they play well for the M’s. Dipotos’s preference for trades hurts when we lose players we like, but, hopefully it will help prevent Dipoto pulling Chone Figgins, Carlos Silva, and other type boners of the Jack Z. era.

  17. ck on December 8th, 2015 9:43 am

    My mistake; Silva was morphed into Milton Bradley by Jack Z.

  18. msfanmike on December 8th, 2015 2:43 pm

    Miley will likely be much better at Safeco than he was at Fenway and I think Karns will be pretty decent. I don’t like the fact that Carson Smith was traded, but I don’t have to like it.

    The fact is that Walker and Paxton need to be really, really good in ’16. They need to live up to their 2/3 of whatever we at one time believed Cerberus was going to be. No more fluke injuries during routine conditioning drills and a few less laps around the game day buffet should help Paxton’s odds, if nothing else.

    Kuma is injured a lot and can’t be relied upon to make 32 starts per season … and we already have a Paxton (who won’t either), so I understand the trade.

    At this time last year, people were referring to Paxton as the #2/3 starter and maybe he can restore that fleeting glimmer of hope in Mariner fans once again, but it’s a roll of the dice as as to whether he will or won’t … and sometimes you roll snake eyes.

    The “activity level” of the offseason has been pretty cool, but I am not going to allow myself to confuse “activity” with “progress.” There is still a lot of work left to do and a considerable amount of time to do it.

  19. Notfromboise on December 8th, 2015 4:12 pm

    Probably the biggest thing that irks me after a good nights sleep is that we gave away Trumbo.

    We’re now scrambling for a first baseman. The FA options are the Mark Reynolds / Corey Hart types that are essentially Trumbo-clones or worse. If we’re trading, we have to give up yet another asset or two to get a guy like Lind, who is not leaps and bounds beyondd the guy we gave away.

    What was Trumbo gonna hit? 7th?

    1-Marte 2-Aoki 3-Cano 4-Cruz 5-Seager 6-Guti 7-Trumbo 8-Ianetta 9-Martin?

    We are seriously trying to get an extra 10x on base per season so Ianetta and Martin could bring the 7th hitter home? Good luck lol.

    Revisionist history (and to be fair Dipoto did not know how all this was going to play out either), but pay Trumbo his 9mil or whatever, and you get to keep extra assets. Trumbo’s WAR might not reach that 9mil figure, but the WAR of what else we packaged to boot him did.

    Plus it buys one more year for DJ Peterson or someone in the system to get ready to make a mark in September.. And we go into the 2016 offseason with a better (by default) FA market for first basemen.

  20. ck on December 8th, 2015 4:31 pm

    Even Scribner must wonder who will be in the M’s bullpen in 2016!

  21. Gihyou on December 8th, 2015 8:16 pm

    Evan Scribner probably indeed will wonder who will be in the M’s bullpen in 2016, since it probably will include him.

    Kind of funny you brought him up, Marc, as the Mariners traded for him today.

  22. mksh21 on December 8th, 2015 9:57 pm

    1B open… What’s Mike Carp up to these days πŸ™‚

  23. Westside guy on December 9th, 2015 9:05 am

    Welcome to Seattle, Adam Lind!

  24. Coug1990 on December 9th, 2015 9:13 am

    Best Seattle first baseman in forever. Love this

  25. ck on December 9th, 2015 9:57 am

    This Adam Lind acquisition is solid for these M’s. An upgrade to a need, on a team built to win NOW, by trading away three young (18,19 yr olds) pitchers, (whose future is / are a coin-flip, compared to a five toolsy position playing 19 yr old) SOLID MOVE!

  26. Gormogon on December 9th, 2015 10:13 am

    Hey Hi! I just restarted following the Mariners since I lost all interest in May.

    Here is what I am seeing:
    1. Plan to field an elite defense.
    2. Plan to utilize league average pitchers for good value, to combine with that defense. A league average pitcher with a good defense behind him becomes more effective than a league average pitcher with a league average defense. There you have it. There’s the value in getting a #3 starter for lower $ than you would spend on a #1 or #2. Your elite defense provides the incremental increase to get your #3 to be effectively a #2. If you have a rotation full of #2s, you’re going to have a winning team. (if you can provide league average offense.
    3. Lengthening that lineup. I’m sure someone has looked at this, but really, if you have 8-9 guys who see a lot of pitches or who have above average OBPs, you’re going to really really work the other team’s pitching staff. The value? Incremental changes that I think would are likely to increase exponentially as you tire the staff out. 4-5 good obp guys? Maybe you don’t hit that effective incremental change. 8-9 guys? I think you start to see a lot of offensive return on that as the opposing team’s staff gets worked.

  27. MrZDevotee on December 9th, 2015 11:50 am

    Boom… I love the Adam Lind addition…

    1. Marte SS
    2. Aoki OF
    3. Cano 2B
    4. Cruz DH
    5. Seager 3B
    6. Lind 1B
    7. Smith/Guty OF
    8. Ianetta C
    9. Martin CF

    Or possibly move Marte to 8 or 9, and put Aoki 1, Seager 2…

    I’d PAY to watch that team play baseball… This lineup doesn’t have any “all we have to hope for is that player x, y, and z have their best season ever” dependency.

  28. eponymous coward on December 9th, 2015 3:01 pm

    You need a platoon partner for Lind (lifetime .586 OPS vs LHP).

    Also… lot of guys on the wrong side of 30 in that lineup, and with injury history (Lind, Guti and I suppose Cano now). Things could go south pretty fast.

  29. MrZDevotee on December 9th, 2015 3:14 pm

    eponymous– I’m assuming Cruz will spell Lind at 1B, with various folks rotating through the DH position based on matchups. But as a base lineup, against righties, compared to last season, this makes me happy. Is it the ideal lineup? But from the starting point of the day he was hired, to halfway through the winter meetings, this is beyond what I expected. These particular 30+ guys still give a good at-bat and provide a bump in OBP… (Martin aside of course…)

  30. Westside guy on December 9th, 2015 4:09 pm

    Well… let’s wait and see where the team is at come February. The way Dipoto is going, who knows what the roster is going to look like by then! Maybe even these newest guys will be traded away. πŸ˜€

    It’s like we have a GM that’s addicted to the rush of making deals…

  31. MrZDevotee on December 9th, 2015 5:11 pm

    Actually, Dipoto says they’re giving Montero the opportunity to rotate into the 1B/DH rotation, and be a RH bat off the bench.

    Hmmmm… Okay, but just 1 fingers crossed guy is okay, for now…

  32. eponymous coward on December 9th, 2015 5:19 pm

    I’m not saying this is a bad strategy considering where the M’s were in October 2015, more like I can see where the downside risk is (injury and age-related decline). As things go, when Seager’s the only guy in the core as a proven player on the right side of 30 (Felix will turn 30 this April)… it’s reasonable.

    I think if things go south we might see a pretty quick purge/reconstruction project ala Astros or Mariners past, because at that point there won’t be a lot of choice- if your guys all get old and injured, not much to do with the current state of things (and the farm system’s/young player depth is a bit shallower thanks to trades).

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