What if Prince doesn’t sign with the good guys?

There are obviously two different paths the Mariners are planning for at the moment.  If they sign Prince Fielder the most likely path is that they don’t have much more money and might be looking to free up some space by dealing Brandon League and/or Jason Vargas.  They wouldn’t have a lot of wiggle room, but they would have added a major bat to the lineup.

What do the Mariners do with their rumored $15mil worth of budget if they don’t sign Prince Fielder?  There isn’t a great deal of talent left out on the free agent market that could help this team.  The common thought process is to maximize wins by adding veteran players to fill holes with one year contracts.  While this is an effective way to put together a better team for the current year, I don’t think that this is the best way for the Mariners to build value within their franchise.  Since the Mariners appear to be playing for 2013 and beyond at this point in time, every move that they make should be with that in mind.  The budget left and positions available on the field for 2012 should be used for positioning yourself to win in 2013.

Step 1– Don’t block rookies with 1 year veteran contracts, trade for players with talent, years of control, and/or something to prove.  I have no problem with the Hisashi Iwakuma signing.  I know that this was a one year contract, but the difference with Iwakuma is that we don’t know what to expect.  If he is a solid pitcher we do have control of him and a reasonable expectation that he would want to return to the Mariners after 2012.  This one year contract allows us to evaluate his skill and decide whether he is worthy of an extension. 

I do not want to acquire a player on a one year deal when we know exactly what we are getting even if that player projects to get us a couple more wins.  Examples of this are players like Johnny Damon, Carlos Pena, Derrek Lee, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Carlos Guillen, Ryan Ludwick, Kevin Millwood and Jeff Francis.  These players may be solid improvements on the current Mariners roster, but none of them will make us better in 2013.  We will not be able to flip them at the trade deadline for anything worthwhile, and they will take at bats and innings from a potential young players that could have the ability to show something and be a part of the club after this year. 

I would prefer the Mariners trade for a player that would come reasonably cheap, is still young, has shown talent in the minor leagues, and has yet to put it together at the major league level.  Someone like Brandon Wood, Fernando Martinez or Kyle Blanks could fill a backup role, but if given the opportunity could do the same thing that Mike Carp did last season.  Give some young players a chance to surprise us.

Step 2– Change your opinion on the value of money.  In most any case a dollar today is worth more than a dollar next year, but not for the Mariners.  If we are able to save money for the 2013 buget by spending more this season, we should take advantage of that opportunity.  The easiest way to do this is in a bad contract swap.  Currently the Mariners have one bad contract with the $17mil owed to Chone Figgins over the next two years.  The Mariners should look to trade Figgins for a player that has the same length of a bad contract, could benefit from Safeco Field, and is due for a rebound.  The obvious choice is to trade for an overpaid starting pitcher.  The two players that come to mind for me without a lot of research are A.J. Burnett and Johan Santana.  A.J. Burnett is due $16.5mil for the next 2 seasons, and Johan Santana is due $24mil this season, $25.5mil next season with a $5.5mil buyout in 2014.  Example trades:

 Mariners send Chone Figgins and Jason Vargas + $7mil in 2012 to the Yankees for A.J. Burnett and $10mil in 2013

Mariners send Chone Figgins and Jason Vargas to the Mets for Johan Santana and $15.5mil in 2013

Obviously, these are just examples of the idea and not concrete numbers to base expectations.  In the first example the Mariners would be eating into $9.5mil of this year’s budget, but next season could have a reasonably priced number 3 pitcher at $6.5mil.  The second example is riskier since Santana is coming back from shoulder surgery, but eating into $10.5 mil of this year’s budget could net us a potential ace next season for $10mil.  Both Burnett and Santana are poised for rebound seasons and could use the Mariners defense with Safeco field’s expanses to increase their value.  The Mets are currently believed to be in financial trouble and would likely welcome the salary relief this season and the Yankees have been rumored to be looking to add to their rotation without raising their payroll drastically.

Step 3– Acquire players that have more than one year of control and are poised for a breakout season.  I know that I have mentioned this in previous posts, but trading for a player like Kendrys Morales makes a lot of sense to me.  When healthy he is a legitimate number 4 hitter, and his value is as low as it is ever going to get.  The worst that could happen with an acquisition like Morales is that he doesn’t return to his former self, in which case he is not guaranteed a contract for next season.  There is however a very solid chance that he could return to the player he was 2 years ago and be an inexpensive cleanup hitter.  

When looking in free agency don’t be afraid to overpay a little for a bounce-back player that will allow you to add a team option for 2013.  Two players that come to mind for a scenario like this are Rich Harden and Joel Zumaya.  Yes, both of these players are prone to injury, but when healthy both have proven that they can be very effective.  Last season Zumaya found a way to drop his walks / 9 IP down 2 points to a very respectable 2.58 while maintaining a K rate of almost 8.  Harden had a K rate of almost 10 and has the flexibility of being a reliever or help in the rotation if necessary.  Both players are likely to sign contracts for $1-2mil.  Why not sign them for $1mil more than expected and add a team friendly option for 2013 for $3-4mil.  If either of these players have a healthy season they immediately become a trade asset that you could flip for a decent amount at the trade deadline.

Step 4-Trade away veteran players with only one year of control.  At this point in time we are not going to be able to trade Ichiro Suzuki because he is more valuable to the Seattle Mariners than any other franchise.  We just signed George Sherrill and Hisashi Iwakuma to one year deals so they aren’t likely to be dealt at this point.  This leaves only Brandon League to be dealt.  I do realize that closer market at the moment is not very strong with Ryan Madson signing at below market value on a one year contract with the Reds, but the Angels are still looking for relief help and don’t have very much money to spend.  Francisco Cordero is still available, but he is 37 years old and has had a steeply declining K rate for the last 4 years.  Many people believe that the Mariners should wait until the deadline to deal League, but why would a player be more valuable when there are only a couple months left on his contract.  Trade League now and free up the closer position for another player with something to prove.

This roster might not be the best you could put together for 2012, but it should position you well for 2013.  Since a replacement level team estimates to win around 43 games, my estimate for a team like below would be around 80 wins.

Player Position hand Salary 2011 WAR 2012 WAR
Ichiro Suzuki RF left

18000000

0.2

1

Franklin Gutierrez CF right

5813000

1.1

3

Dustin Ackley 2B left

1500000

2.3

3

Kendrys Morales DH switch

3000000

0

2

Justin Smoak 1B switch

450000

0.5

2

Casper Wells LF right

450000

1.5

2

Miguel Olivo C Right

3500000

0.9

1

Kyle Seager 3B left

450000

0.5

1

Brendan Ryan SS Right

1500000

2.6

2

           
Bench          
John Jaso C left

450000

0.5

1

Mike Carp LF/1B left

450000

0.5

2

Brandon Wood SS/3B right

600000

0.1

0.5

Fernando Martinez OF left

450000

0

0

           
Starting Rotation          
Felix Hernandez SP Right

19200000

5.5

5

AJ Burnett SP Right

16500000

1.5

2.5

Hisashi Iwakuma SP Right

1500000

0

2

Michael Pineda SP Right

450000

3.4

3.5

Blake Beaven SP Right

450000

0.7

1

           
Bullpen          
Tom Wilhelsen RP Right

450000

0.3

0.5

Shawn Kelley RP Right

450000

0.2

0.4

Steve Delabar RP Right

450000

-0.1

0.1

Joel Zumaya RP right

2500000

0

0.5

Stephen Pryor RP Right

450000

0

1

Rich Harden RP Right

2500000

0.4

1

George Sherrill RP Left

1100000

0.5

0.5

           
Money with Figgins    

7000000

   
           
     

$89,613,000

23.1

38.5

Posted in AJ Burnett, Brandon League, Brandon Wood, Chone Figgins, Deals, Fernando Martinez, Free Agent, Jason Vargas, Joel Zumaya, Johan Santana, Kendrys Morales, Kyle Blanks, Mariners, Mike Carp, Prince Fielder, Rich Harden | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Yoenis Céspedes

For those of you that don’t know Yoenis Céspedes is a former Cuban professional baseball player that defected to the Dominican Republic during the summer of 2011.   It is expected that he will be declared a free agent for MLB within the next couple weeks, and with his talent there will be quite a few teams interested in signing him.

At 26 years old the right-handed outfielder is deemed to be a 5-tool player and has put up some pretty amazing numbers professionally in Cuba and in international play.  He has been playing professionally in Cuba since the end of the 2003-2004 season when he was 19 years old.  This last season Céspedes batted .333/.424/.667 with 89 runs, 33 home runs and 99 RBI in 90 games. He led the league in runs, tied for the home run lead (breaking the former league record by one), tied for the most total bases (236), tied for 7th in steals (11 in 14 tries), led in RBI, and finished 5th in slugging.

For a more in-depth look at his career stats and bio you can visit Baseball Reference 

How good is Yoenis Céspedes?
I doubt that anyone will really know for sure until he gets at least one full MLB season under his belt.  At this point in time he has proven himself to be a gifted athlete that is one of the best in Cuba at a very young age.  Unfortunately the baseball in Cuba is not the same quality or the same game and a player’s skill cannot be translated equally across to MLB.

Below is some of the praise that he has received from those that know more about how to judge baseball skill than myself.

One NL Int. Scouting Director, courtesy of Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider

“Runs very well; a power runner, but does have quick-twitch actions. I think he can play some center until he’s 30-32. Tremendous hand and wrist strength produces big bat speed and 30-homer power. Physically, he has everything, including a 60 arm; he does get pull happy at times and gets overly aggressive on the bases and with his throws from the outfield. He’s performed satisfactorily in international play against better competition, but those with three pitches give him trouble. The best attribute is a work ethic and baseball acumen that should allow him to continue to develop as he’s challenged in the states.”

“There may be a year or so where he has to play catch-up, but he’ll be an asset from the first day he arrives. He reminds many of a young Sammy Sosa, and some have mentioned Bo Jackson in terms of swing and bat speed. He’ll need to make the adjustment to the good offspeed stuff — most of the No. 1s in Cuba fit as No. 3s or 4s in MLB and lack a quality second pitch.  If he can hit .270 and make enough contact on the way, he’s an all-star.”

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus called Céspedes “arguably the best all-around player to come out of Cuba in a generation.”
 
Could the Mariners use Yoenis Céspedes?
At this point in time, the Mariners could use any talent at the plate that they can get their hands on.  They could find a spot for him in left field, but at what cost and risk?
 
Does it make sense for the Mariners to make a strong bid for Yoenis Céspedes?
The quotes above in this article paint a picture of a future all star on any team, but the stories and comparables are commonly meant to show a best case scenario when the player is put into circumstances that fit their main attributes.  One of the main selling points Céspedes has to offer is his power.  Aggressive, right handed, pull happy players that depend upon their power tend to be taken down a notch by Safeco Field.  Adrian Beltre is prime example of what can happen to a quality right-handed pull hitter in Safeco.  You put Beltre in LA, Boston or Texas and he could be a perennial All-Star, but Seattle is a rough place for his bat since he doesn’t quite have Mike Stanton or Miguel Cabrera type power.  Assuming that Céspedes receives around the $30mil he is asking for.  I believe it would be a much riskier move for the Mariners to take on a player that would likely turn out to be an above average at best, and likely just average.  The Mariners also already have two question marks in Casper Wells and Mike Carp that are ready to play left field this season.

Posted in Adrian Beltre, Casper Wells, Center Field, Cuba, Free Agent, LF, Mariners, Mike Carp, Yoennis Cespedes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking Measured Risks

I think that most Mariners’ fans can agree that we will have a very difficult time keeping pace with the Angels and Rangers in the AL West this next season.  There is young talent on our squad that needs some more experience and there are a couple holes in the lineup that need to be addressed.  Since Seattle likely has some cap room, some positions open that wouldn’t block young talent at the moment, and at least one season ahead where it will be difficult to compete; I would like to see Zduriencik take a couple gambles and trade for a player or two that are coming back from injury.  These players could be major contributors to the team if they come back with the same abilities they had before, and also would not cost a great deal to acquire.  If these players do contribute, they could be resigned or traded for other talent.  If they don’t contribute you know that you haven’t really taken a step backwards by giving them a shot.  Here are a couple examples:

Kendrys Morales– 1B, Los Angeles Angels of AnaheimKendrys Morales

Trading within the division can be very difficult, and Kendrys is coming back from a pretty severe broken lower left leg (injured while celebrating a walk off grand slam against the Mariners & Brandon League in 2010).  Other than those two facts this trade basically places itself together.

The Mariners need a middle of the lineup bat with some pop and have a hole at DH.  Kendrys Morales at 28 years old, is a switch hitter with more power from the left hand side of the plate which fits into Safeco Field well.  He batted .302/.353/.548 with 45 homers & earning 4.6 WAR in the 203 games prior to the injury, dating back to the start of the 2009 season.  Brandon League is in his final year of team control for Seattle before he is able to hit free agency, and is rumored to be available.

The Angels are reportedly in need of late inning bullpen help, and the Mariners closer could step right in.  With the signing of Albert Pujols and the emergence of Mark Trumbo last season the Angels could have 3 players trying to fill the starting 1B and DH spots.  Trading Morales would help the Angels to compete now and give the Mariners a low cost, middle of the lineup bat with two years of control left.  Since the Angels have tendered Morales a contract this season, one could assume that they believe he is healing well to this point, but the team won’t know more until after the New Year.

Kendrys Morales Stats

Johan Santana– SP, New York MetsJohan Santana

This trade doesn’t quite fit as well as the proposed Morales swap, but I could see reasoning behind both sides coming to an agreement. 

The Mets are currently having financial problems and likely would breathe easier if they were to dump some salary.  Santana is their highest paid player making $25.5mil for the next 2 seasons with a $5.5mil buyout for 2014.  After 8 full seasons and over 1900 innings of ace caliber pitching, Johan is coming off of a 2011 season where he was not able to pitch due to shoulder problems.  It has even recently been reported that Santana might not be healthy before the beginning of the 2012 season.  The Mets also have a hole at the top of the lineup left by Jose Reyes and a need for a stop gap to hold down second base until Reese Havens or another young player is ready to take it full time.

The Mariners currently have Chone Figgins, a player that before joining the team was one of the best leadoff hitters in the AL and could use a change of scenery.  Figgins is due $17 mil over the next 2 seasons and could be a viable 2B candidate.  Few people could deny that Figgins was a quality player in his years with the Angels but ever since he put on a Mariners’ uniform in 2010, he has had difficulties at the plate.  The Mariners could also include Jason Vargas in the trade to fill the hole left in the Mets’ rotation after Santana leaves.  I doubt that the Mariners would be willing to take on Santana’s complete salary, but some relief would definitely have to be included.  Santana does have a full no trade clause, but he could step into Seattle’s rotation as exactly what fits best in Safeco Field, a left-handed fly ball pitcher.

Johan Santana Stats

Posted in Angels, Brandon League, Chone Figgins, DH, Jason Vargas, Johan Santana, Kendrys Morales, Mariners, Mets, SP, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What is Prince Fielder’s worth?

Many people have discussed what type of a contract Prince Fielder should get this off season.  The debate seems to hover around Fielder’s weight and whether the 27 year old will age well through a long term contract.  The most analysis on the subject seems to be about how heavier baseball players produce as they age compared to a player with a leaner build.

I think that the subject could be a lot easier to analyze because of Prince’s father, Cecil Fielder.  Since Cecil was also a large power hitting professional baseball player and they share the same bloodlines, we could assume that the father and son will age similarly. 

So how did Cecil Fielder produce through his career?

Cecil Fielder –

From Cecil’s stat line above, you can see that after an above average season in 1996 Cecil’s power began to fade in 1997.  His ISO dropped 82 points from the prior year though his walk rate and K rate were around average.  Cecil still appeared to have a solid year at the plate with an OPS of .768, but his power definitely took a downward turn.  Mike Carp was the only Mariner player with over 150 plate appearances and an OPS higher than .768 last season (.796)

What does this mean for Prince’s production?

Well if Prince ages like his father and doesn’t get injured, he should remain in his prime until he turns 33 years old.  However Prince Fielder is a much better hitter than his father was, and could have some productive years after his prime as his power fades. 

According to http://www.fangraphs.com Princes value averages out to $22.3mil over the last three seasons with an average WAR of 5.1.  With Prince being worth over 5 wins a season and the value of a win currently sitting around $4.5mil.  The production that Prince brings could be worth around $23mil over the next 5 seasons and then start to fade from there.

 With Prince’s production at the plate and the value he adds to players around him in the lineup, I could see an American League team offering a little over $20mil a year to Fielder for 7 years and getting their money’s worth.  The Mariners appear to be the only American League team that is in the running for Fielder and having a DH spot to place him in a couple years should make them to feel safer adding more years to a contract.

Posted in 1B, Cecil Fielder, DH, Mariners, Prince Fielder | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Mariners complete Fister Furbush trade

While the 12 year old in me has had juvenile jokes running through my head constantly since the trade deadline, this is a quick look at the PTBNL that was just announced by the Mariners.
Chance Ruffin has been linked to this deal since the deadline, but could not be named until this week, when he became eligible for trade after his first full year of service. He was drafted in the supplemental first round in 2010. He is ranked as the 7th best prospect in the Tigers organization at the beginning of this year by minorleagueball.com with polished plus stuff. And while we are looking the player to be named, the other players that were named at the time of the trade are Casper Wells (ranked 10th) Fransisco Martinez (11th) and Furbush (17th) for Fister and Pauley. Not a bad haul for a fourth starter and set up guy.

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Welcome to Seattle Wily Mo Pena

Justin Smoak was placed on the 15 Day today and taking his spot on the roster is Wily Mo Pena. The bad hop that Smoak took to the face still makes me cringe and I hate to see Smoak on the DL, but you probably already know I am psyched that Pena got a call up.

Tonights lineup:
1- Ichiro (leadoff homerun)
2- Gutierrez
3- Ackley
4- Carp
5- WILY MO PENA!
6- Wells (3 run HR)
7- Bard
8- Rodriguez
9- Wilson

Good Luck Wily Mo.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Mo Factor

It is obvious that they know the order

One of the best aspect of Wily Mo Pena is his name.  I have never heard of anyone else with a seperate “Mo” portion within their name, but it fits so perfectly.  Adding Mo to any name automatically makes that person amplified over anyone else that shares the same last name.  I took the liberty of going through the Mariners 40 man roster and picking the best fits:

Luke Mo French – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHjWNXx_T78

Miguel Mo Olivo – O – LIV – O!  MOOOO!

Matt Mo Tuiasosopo – The only person that might consider adding Mo to the end of their name.

Chone Mo Figgins – This guy could bat over .250

Chuck Mo Furbush – Yah, he would change his first name to Chuck if he added Mo.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment