Archive for October, 2007

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What Should the Mariners #1 Offseason Priority Be?

October 30, 2007

By Brett

Now that the offseason is officially here, I feel it’s as good a time as ever to post this. You might be surprised by my answer to this question, but I think the answer is hitting. Yes, hitting. The Mariners could use a legitimate power and walk threat in the middle of the order more than I could use a winning lottery ticket. In Safeco Field it’s important to have a moster power threat who can hit one out of any ballpark. A merely average power hitter sees their long balls die at the track and get hauled in for outs. An average offense looks below average in Safeco. Good offense is extremely important in this park. After all, Baek, Morrow, RRS, Campillo, Lehr, Feierabend, and Rohrbaugh can all look like acceptable #5 starters in Safeco field. I’d of course love to upgrade the rotation with a better starter, a Curt Schilling or Hikori Kuroda maybe, but that’s less important than putting a bat in Safeco that might help us have a better RS/G at home. We need a star in this lineup. Raul, Adrian, and Ichiro are all good, but I believe it would take a different type of hitter to make this offense a unit to be feared.

We need Adam Dunn.

Dunn has a $13.5 million option with Cincinnati this year that will likely be picked up. Rumor has it Cincinnati GM Wayne Krivsky is stupidly looking to deal Adam Dunn because he strikes out too much and isn’t clutch. So let me just re-iterate that for you. Wayne Krivsky has a problem with a left-handed bat who put up a .264/.386/.554 line with 40 HR last year. I, on the other hand, have no problems with that hitter. I’ll take two, please.

Before I get all gung-ho with seemingly undervalued offers we have to consider what Cincy’s needs are. They need a starting Catcher, Bullpen arms, a first baseman, and starting depth. So here’s their list of needs:

  • Catcher
  • First Baseman
  • Relief Pitching
  • Starting Pitching

Okay, fair enough, let’s see how the Mariners match up at those positions.

  • Catcher

—Kenji Johjima, Jeff Clement

  • First Base

—Richie Sexson, Ben Broussard, Jose Vidro, Raul Ibanez

  • Relief Piching

—Sean Green, Mark Lowe, J.J. Putz, Eric O’Flaherty, Jon Huber, George Sherrill, Kam Mickolio, Austin Bibens-Dirkx

  • Starting Pitching

—Felix Hernandez, Jarrod Washburn, Miguel Batista, Brandon Morrow, RRS, Jorge Campillo, Justin Lehr, Ryan Feierabend, Robert Rohrbaugh, HoRam.

So the Mariners are pretty well stacked at Cincy’s desired positions. A Kenji/EOF/Feierabend/Broussard type package may be enough to land Dunn, who would immediately make the Mariners lineup a feared one with his presence in the #4 spot in the lineup. The one problem it creates is it does force Jeff Clement into starting duty, but I think the risk of Clement struggling is worth the reward of Adam Dunn’s bat. Clement could surprise and perform well, though I think he needs another half-season of AAA before he’s fully ready for the show. It’s not too bad though, as he’ll be ready by some time in 2008 no matter what. It’s not a huge risk.

Dunn alone makes this a good offseason for the Mariners, but that doesn’t mean it has to be it. The M’s can afford Dunn and a Schilling type pitcher. Especially since Dunn only adds $1.8 million to the team payroll if he’s acquired for the package I offered Cincinnati.

Of course signing A-Rod would solve everything and save you your trade pieces, but that’s too good to actually happen.

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Thoughts on Jeff Clement

October 28, 2007

By Brett

Let me preface this first by saying I have no idea where this post is going. katal and I were just talking about Clement a bit today and I figured I’d write a little piece about him.

So I assume all of us know the story on Clement at this point. Number 3 overall in the 2005 draft, the left-handed power-hitting catcher was said to have the best raw power in the draft. He was drafted ahead of Troy Tulowitzki and Cameron Maybin. Many believe the Mariners messed this one up. I don’t agree. When talking to katal, he made a good point–the Twins were blasted for taking Joe Mauer over Mark Prior. How’s that one working out now? I’m not saying Clement’s going to be the next Mauer, only that sometimes it takes more than a few years to see who truly won in the draft.

Mariner Catching prospect Jeff Clement.--MLB.com

Early in the year Clement seemed to disappoint much of the Mariner Blogosphere. Dave Cameron over at U.S.S. Mariner noted earlier this year that a lot of Clement’s success came off of soft-tossing left-handers and that his bat speed may be cause for concern. After Clements first few ABs in the big leagues, I saw what he was saying. Clement’s first AB was against Jose Vizcaino of the Yankees, which ended in a strikeout. However, I still came away impressed. Jeff worked the count well, and only swung at pitches in the strike zone. He didn’t chase anything, despite fanning on a 91 MPH fastball in the zone. I thought there that maybe there was some validity to the claims of slow bat speed. But Clement managed to turn on a 91MPH Joe Borowski offering to tie the game vs. Cleveland, and what I believe was 93MPH off the Texas right-hander who surrendered his 2-run walk off blast. I don’t remember who served it up, because Red and I were too busy freaking out and doing the Rally Jig, but I remember it was a legitimate bomb on a cold, heavy-aired Seattle night. The blogosphere’s opinion on him seemed to change overnight, and though I always thought Clement would be good, watching him made me a fan, and I’m firmly on the Clement bandwagon. He cemented himself as my favorite Mariner prospect.

Also, we have to remember Clement had a torn meniscus in his left knee and had bone chips removed from his left elbow in his first full year in the system. I’m sure these injuries coupled with his overly-aggressive promotion to Tacoma stunted his development a little bit. The injury woes didn’t stop there for Clement, however. Mike Morse tagged him with a bat in his left middle finger in spring training this year. X-Rays were negative, but it could explain his slow start a little bit if he had trouble gripping the bat. I’m absolutely 100% confident that Clement’s bat speed will improve and he’ll raise his OPS from his .867 mark in AAA last year. I have almost nothing to back this up, it’s just a gut feeling. Clement will be knocking on the door by June, and if the Mariners are smart they’ll trade Kenji and let the Jeff Clement era begin by then. I know that’s a bit aggressive, but Clement will be ready.

My totally random, emotions based Crystal ball for Clement’s 2008 would be something like a .264/.338/.444 line with maybe 22 HR. It’s about the same offense Kenji will give you with admittedly worse defense. But by June I’m sure he’ll have nothing to prove in Tacoma and will deserve a promotion. I see Clement’s ceiling as a .275/.365/.535 type hitter who may knock out 30-35 homers with one or two 40 homer seasons in there. Safeco should help his home run totals, as it is designed for left-handed power hitters, and Clement is just that.

So I guess my assessment would be that Clement could probably perform in the big leagues today, but it would serve him well to play another half-season in Tacoma. Clement is absolutely on my untouchable list if I’m the GM, and he should be a big contributor for years to come. His hot September wasn’t a fluke. I don’t know what makes me feel this way, but Jeff Clement is the real deal.

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Larry LaRue has Stupidest Idea Ever.

October 28, 2007

By Brett

LaRue thinks Horacio Ramirez is a good pitcher and should return to the rotation in 2008.

Hahahahahahahaha

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Wladimir Balentien and Adam Jones

October 24, 2007

In early August, at a USSMariner/Lookout Landing co-sponsored event at Cheney Stadium, Bill Bavasi specifically stated that he had no intention of starting two rookies in the 2008 Mariners outfield.

Flash forward two and a half months later, and Jason Churchill’s recent report that Bavasi may have changed his mind seems unsurprising. Jose Guillen will likely file for free agency shortly after the Red Sox crush the hopes and dreams of Colorado, while it is simply inconceivable that any rational baseball mind still believes that Raul Ibanez is fit to patrol the outfield. At this point, why not decide to start two hotshot rookies in ’08?

Here’s why. In Tacoma during the 2007 season, 25% of Jones’ at bats resulted in strike outs. Wlad did not perform much better in this category, with 22% of his at bats ending in a K. During his stint in Seattle this year, Jones had 65 ABs, 21 of which ended in a strike out (fun fact – Jones received those 65 ABs over the course of 71 games. In 2006, Jones spent 32 games in the big leagues, and had 74 ABs. Don’t you love John McLaren?).

Like it or not, the Mariners are going to do their best to contend in 2008. The Athletics are still rebuilding and the Rangers are still the Rangers, and means that the Angels are the only team standing in the M’s way for a division title. Toss in the whole “Bavasi and McLaren are on the hot seat” angle, and you’ll see even more reason as to why the team is going to continue in its “win now” mode. And if they’re in that mode, it’s asinine to start two K-prone rookies in the same lineup that features Jose Lopez and the streaky Kenji Johjima and Raul Ibanez.

Much more likely, if neither player is traded this winter, we’ll see Jones starting for Seattle in April, while Wlad will join Jeff Clement in being 2008’s version of Jones/Felix/Lopez – the kid in Tacoma who, over the course of the season, begins to produce more than his veteran Seattle counterpart, but who doesn’t receive a promotion until the second half of the year.

Wlad’s time will come, even if it is in 2009. In the meantime, let’s try to enjoy whatever replacement-level 34-year old veteran Bavasi signs to man the outfield until then.

-katal

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2007-2008 Mariners Offseason Plan Take 2

October 16, 2007

By Brett

Take 1 was a diary on Lookout Landing, and I’m not re-posting it, sorry. Anyway, here’s plan number two…

Let’s first take a look at the team roster as is (players currently under contract) and examine the problems.

  • C Kenji Johjima
  • 1B Richie Sexson
  • 2B Jose Lopez
  • 3B Adrian Beltre
  • SS Yuniesky Betancourt
  • LF Raul Ibanez
  • CF Ichiro!
  • RF Adam Jones
  • SP Felix Hernandez
  • SP Jarrod Washburn
  • SP Miguel Batista
  • SP Brandon Morrow
  • SP Ryan Feierabend
  • CP J. J. Putz
  • SU George Sherrill
  • MR Sean Green
  • MR Eric O’Flaherty
  • MR Ryan Rowland-Smith
  • MR Jon Huber
  • LR Cha Seung Baek

So there’s a look at what is likely to be the active roster (minus the bench) if the season started today. So let’s take a look at the glaring holes in our team right now.

First Base Production: Both offensively and defensively first base was a huge hole. Richie Sexson ran a pathetic .205/.295/.399 this year while playing absolutely atrocious defense. Broussard did an adequate job filling in, but isn’t the answer.

Outfield Defense: Raul Ibanez was second only to Manny Ramirez as a defensive outfielder. And he did it in the biggest LF area in baseball, costing us around 20 runs according to most metrics. Guillen had a cannon arm but was below average as well, so both corner OFs can be improved.

Left-handed power: Raul Ibanez was our only left-handed bat with any sort of power. This was hilariously depressing.

Starting Pitching: Well come on, we let Horacio Ramirez and Jeff Weaver get over 20 starts each. Any other team would’ve taken those two out of the rotation sooner. The Mariners however, are retarded.

Second Base Offensive output: Jose Lopez was one of the worst offensive second basemen in baseball last year. If not the worst. His defense was good enough to warrant his starting spot, however.

So with that quick glossing over the areas in need of improvement this offseason, I present to you my offseason plan…

  1. Trade OF Wladimir Balentien (this hurts), LHP Eric O’Flaherty, and 3B Matt Tuiasosopo to FLA for SP Scott Olsen
  2. Trade C Kenji Johjima, RHP Sean Green, and SP Tony Butler to CIN for OF/DH Adam Dunn
  3. Sign SP Curt Schilling to a two-year, $30 million contract
  4. Sign OF Jose Guillen to a three-year, $35 million contract
  5. Recall C Jeff Clement from AAA Tacoma
  6. Recall RPs Kam Mickolio and Austin Bibens-Dirkx to the MLB roster to replace Sean Green and EOF’s bullpen spots.
  7. Activate Arthur Rhodes from the 60-day DL to be the other lefty in your pen.
  8. Move Raul Ibanez to 1B vs. RHPs, and play Mike Morse at 1B vs. LHPs.
  9. Start Adam Jones in LF every day.
  10. Adam Dunn is the every day DH, Jose Vidro becomes the #1 bench bat and backup 2B, 3B, part time 1B.
  11. Option SPs Ryan Rowland-Smith and Brandon Morrow to AAA Tacoma to start
  12. Trade Richie Sexson to BAL for RP Chad Bradford

This addresses many problems, but before we get to that and why the signings and trades work, let’s take a look at our new roster.

  • C Jeff Clement
  • 1B Raul Ibanez/Mike Morse
  • 2B Jose Lopez
  • 3B Adrian Beltre
  • SS Yuniesky Betancourt
  • LF Adam Jones
  • CF Ichiro!
  • RF Jose Guillen
  • DH Adam Dunn
  • SP Felix Hernandez
  • SP Curt Schilling
  • SP Scott Olsen
  • SP Jarrod Washburn
  • SP Miguel Batista
  • CP Putz
  • SU Sherrill
  • MR Mickolio
  • MR Bibens-Dirkx
  • MR Rhodes
  • MR Bradford
  • LR Baek

Okay, so now you see the team, here’s why the deals work and why it’s possible that the deals could get done.

Let’s start with the Scott Olsen deal. Florida needs outfielders, and Wlad fits the bill as a young outfielder with talent who is cheap. Eric O’Flaherty gives them some needed bullpen stability. Matt Tuiasosopo helps the Marlins reduce the hurt of losing Miguel Cabrera at the end of the year. Tui may be good, he may not be, but having a replacement available in the farm system in Tui is a smart move for the Marlins. Florida has also reportedly soured on Scott Olsen as a person off the field, but he still has talent and Jason Churchill reports that talk of his character being a problem are greatly exaggerated. Olsen is young, cheap, and good, so this deal makes sense for both teams.

Now to Adam Dunn. I’m sure many of you believe that my package isn’t good enough to pry Adam Dunn away from the Reds. If the Reds weren’t crazy, I would agree with you. However, Krivsky is known to have a relief pitcher fetish (Majewski deal anyone?), his team has no catcher, and is in dire need of starting pitching. He also tends to overvalue batting average. Well, Kenji is a huge improvement over David Ross at catcher on defense, has a better average which Krivsky values, and has become a very good defensive catcher. Sean Green gives an empty bullpen one reliable arm, and Tony Butler has great upside. Cincinnati is said to want to get rid of Dunn as they can’t take his strikeouts and low batting average, so by filling three needs of Cleveland’s, it’s definitely possible that Wayne Krivsky would make this deal to get out from Dunn’s salary and improve his team in three areas. Dunn makes sense for the Mariners as he’s a big left-handed power bat and we can afford him. Dunn also takes plenty of walks, which our lineup needs. This deal, again, is win-win.

Signing Curt Schilling is a no-brainer. He ran a 3.87 ERA in Fenway park, which was good for a 4.33 FIP and 4.45 xFIP. He still gets strikeouts and doesn’t walk anyone, and his extreme flyball tendencies wouldn’t hurt him in a spacious Safeco field with Adam Jones, Ichiro, and Guillen tracking down his flyballs. He’s a legit #2 pitcher in Seattle’s ballpark. Not to mention he is a smart pitcher and mixes his pitches very well. Felix can learn a thing or two from watching Schilling pitch. Yeah, he’s got a reputation as a pompous asshole, but the guy can pitch and will never be afraid to tell the media the truth about the locker room.

Sexson for Bradford makes sense because Baltimore is a stupid organization looking for a power-hitting first baseman and may take a flier on Sexson for a middle reliever.

As far as the internal moves go, they make sense. With Kenji traded, promoting Clement is the best option you have at starting catcher, and he made big steps forward at AAA this year. He may be a little disappointing in 2008 but he’d be ready by June or July anyway, so he won’t be losing much development time. Morrow and Rowland-Smith have upside as starters but aren’t ready to start at the major league level yet. Some development time in AAA would help, and Batista, Washburn, and Schilling all have two years left on their deals so there’s a good chance one or two of them could be traded by 2009. Bibens-Dirkx and Mickolio are solid relievers and our best options to replace those we’ve traded.

So we’ve addressed why the deals work. Let’s see if it’s filled our team’s holes which we talked about earlier….

1B Offense: Raul Ibanez and Mike Morse are much more consistent than Sexson. Even with Raul’s terrible start he still managed to hit .291/.351/.480 which is a very solid firstbaseman. Plus, a former outfielder (even a shitty one like Raul) should have a little more range than Sexson and be a bit more agile on defense.

OF Defense: With Raul Ibanez going to first base it allows Adam Jones to start in left field. Adam Jones is probably worth +25 runs over Raul on defense, netting him at at least +5 above average. Guillen is the problem here, but with Jones, a natural CF playing in left field Ichiro should be able to shift more towards RF, not having to fear Jones not getting to something like he so clearly did with Raul.

Left-Handed Power: With the additions of Adam Dunn and Jeff Clement to the every day roster the left-handed power numbers are all but guaranteed to go up. With Raul, Dunn, and Clement we probably go from one of the worst left-handed power hitting teams to one of the best overnight.

Starting Pitching: Curt Schilling and Scott Olsen are vast improvements over Horacio Ramirez and Jeff Weaver, so there’s no way the pitching gets worse. Plus, with RRS, and Morrow in the minors starting, Tillman likely to make the jump to AAA half way through the year, Feierabend and Campillo in AAA, and Baek in long relief, we have some legitimate depth in the starting rotation should someone get injured. Olsen is a replaceable name, the idea of trading for a young, good starter with minor league depth is what matters.

Second Base Offense: No improvement here, I’m just hoping Lopez gets better. He’ll be 23 so it is just as likely as unlikely to happen. If he sucks, we have Bloomquist and Vidro on the bench who can step in for depth. It’s not ideal, but if this is the team’s biggest hole, that’s fine.

Also, after crunching the numbers for salary (to the best of my knowledge) this team only costs $116.19 million, which is only $6 million more than the Mariners spent last year, and a vastly improved team.

So there’s take two on my offseason plan. It’s likely not to happen as our front office is stupid, but I believe this plan is not filled with ridiculous moves, and all the deals are realistic as well as fair for both teams involved…however, I know the M’s will probably end up with Carlos Silva and Al Reyes instead…lame.

-Bretticus