According to Buster Olney, the Mariners are interested in Jeremy Bonderman. Bonderman is a 30 year old right-handed pitcher, with one real catch: He hasn’t pitched in 2 seasons. The former first round pick was not good in 2010 with a 116 FIP – and 14.9 K%. Thanks to a consistently low LOB % (over that large of a sample size it suggests that it was a skill, or more accurately, a lack of skill), his average peripherals came to a ERA that was 11% worse than league averages for his career. Because he hasn’t pitched, we have no idea what kind of shape he is in, what pitches he plans on throwing, or how effective he will be. I am assuming that he will have to do some kind of Scott Kazmir work out (which evidently he failed) in front of teams to get a minor league contract. Assuming I won’t be able to see the workout, I have no idea how he will pitch. If he signs, there is no real way to evaluate the signing (that is, unless there is guaranteed money, which would be bad obviously), but the Tigers are rumored to be interested as well.
A starting pitcher that I suggested the Mariners sign was Scott Baker. The Cubs signed Scott Baker to a one year, 5.5 million dollar deal (with another 1.5 million dollars in incentives) today. Describing it as a big loss or anything close to it would obviously be a huge exaggeration, because he wasn’t even linked that much to the Mariners. However, rotation depth is key for a playoff run, and I think it is important for the Mariners to go out and get something for him.
Torii Hunter has been offered (or will be offered) a multiyear contract by the Detroit Tigers according to Jon Morosi. Hunter, who I have called one of the biggest trap free agents of the off-season (thanks to a diminishing skill set across the board), has been linked to the Mariners.
Jamodrick McGruder, the Mariners 9th round pick in 2012 out of Texas Tech, tweeted that he tweaked his hamstring. He won’t run for the rest of the week, but can still do some light lifting. Obviously it isn’t anything major, but every time a speedster has any kind of hamstring injury, there is some reason for to flip out. Hamstring injuries tend to linger, but again, he just said it was a tweak.
The Cardinals signed former Mariner catcher Rob Johnson to a minor league contract. Johnson was a 4th round pick by the Mariners in 2004 and played in 161 games with the Big League club over 4 different seasons. He was terrible, with a 61 OPS + and -2.2 Wins Above Average and was traded to the Padres for cash. He was terrible there too and signed with the Mets as a free agent and played in just 17 games with the big league club.
Speaking of today, Kyle McClellan was released today by the team. He threw just 18.2 innings this year thanks to injury, but is expected to be ready for Spring Training. McClellan is what I think is an interesting buy low free agent for the bullpen. According to Baseball Reference’s metric that takes into account (obviously) runs, role, and defense, McClellan has been roughly an average pitcher in his career of 378 innings. Of course, this doesn’t take in account of leverage (which hurts McClellan according to their metric), and doesn’t take in account luck/randomness/BABIP (FanGraphs is less of a fan, measuring him at 0.0 WAR, replacement level). His peripherals are very mediocre, with a below average strikeout rate, an average walk rate, and his home rate is about average (and St. Louis’ park plays about neutral, even very slightly pitcher friendly according to some park factors. McClellan had a slightly better ERA at home for his career).
Despite being right-handed, the 28 year old has been much better against left-handers. Using his career wOBA, he is about as effective against right-handed hitters as Derek Holland (a LHP having a down year) was in 2012 (minimum 50 innings). Against LHB, he is about as effective as Cole Hamels and Anibal Sanchez were in 2012 against lefties. So he is basically a right-handed LOOGY, making it pretty obvious he should be in the pen (which he may have to be in anyway because of the injury), though his stint as a starter didn’t go horribly. Stuff wise, he isn’t exceptional, with a slightly below average fastball (being under 90 MPH over the last couple of years, an obvious velocity drop). He throws mainly sinkers though, with a healthy diet of sliders and curveballs (with an occasional changeup). Especially if some of the velocity comes back, I think he is interesting enough to bring in on a minor league contract but I don’t know if I would give him a 40 man roster spot with the Mariners bullpen situation (with Lucas Luetge, Oliver Perez, and Charlie Furbush already existing).
Update (I forgot about this stuff):
Marc of USS Mariner had an interesting post on Blake Beavan and the usefulness of ERA (it is not a great statistic). It also gives you a small look at how good the Mariners’ defense is.
Buster Olney also reports that the Mariners may be a little gun shy in signing a big free agent because of the Chone Figgins disaster. If true, that is pretty discouraging. Obviously some free agents turn out to busts, but some are brilliant signings. To be afraid to do any because one backfired seems to be the worst example of selection bias I have seen recently and is just bad business.
It also looks like the Red Sox will sign Jason Bay, who was linked to the Mariners.
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Favorite general sports moment: The Texas versus USC college football national championship comes to mind, as does Gary Matthews Jr. catch on July 1st 2006.
Favorite Seattle Sports Moment: King Felix throwing a perfect game against the Rays
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