Tag Archives: Chone Figgins

Chone Figgins (and Scott Cousins) DFA’d, 5 Added to 40 Man


Tuesday night was the last day teams had to add players to the 40 man roster to protect eligible prospects from the Rule 5 draft. This was one of the reasons for the Andino-Robinson trade, and caused a flurry of moves around baseball (including former Mariner Adam Moore being designated for assignment by the Royals). The Mariners added Vinnie Catricala, Antony Fernandez, Bobby LaFromboise, Brandon Maurer, and Julio Morban to the 40 man roster. Perhaps more noteworthy, Chone Figgins and Scott Cousins were DFA’d to make room for the above players.

Chone Figgins still has/had 1 year and 8 million dollars left on the original deal that the Mariners signed him to before the 2010 season. Just days ago, General Manager Jack Zduriencik, who made the signing, admitted that it was a “mistake”. Figgins high OBP and speed skills that he displayed with the Angels did not translate into success with the Seattle Mariners. There is no need to look at the statistics. They were bad. There is no reason to go back over the different story lines, whether the fact that he was given an extended look at lead-off in 2012 and failed miserably, or the fact that he made it clear he no longer wanted to play with the Mariners after the end of the season. One could write a whole post on what went wrong with Figgins, but I am not going to do that. It is in the past now, and the Mariners wisely opened up a roster spot (but will still have to pay him the 8 million dollars).

Scott Cousins never played for the Mariners. He was claimed by Seattle after being designated for assignment by the Blue Jays, whom he also never played for. There is a chance that he goes through unclaimed and is out-righted to Tacoma. He may or may not accept an assignment there. If not, he is a free agent, like Figgins will be.

Vinnie Catricala rose through the Mariners system in 2011 after a very good season (since I already wrote statistically heavy season reviews on these guys, I am not going to use many statistics here) but really struggled in 2012. He struggled with breaking balls, and his inconsistencies (and just being plain bad at times) on defense showed that he was nowhere close to helping the Mariners and that he has no real position. Some team might have taken him in the Rule 5 (if taken in the Rule 5, he would have had to stay on the 25 man roster for the entire roster or sent back to Seattle) on the bat alone, but I don’t think he would have been very successful. In the Arizona Fall League, he had a rough first half followed by a good 2nd half. Perhaps later on, we will take a look at what some of the Pitch F/X data said about his stint.

Anthony Fernandez had some success in the extremely hitter friendly High Desert, followed by quite a bit of success in AA Jackson. The left-handed starter has okay stuff, but showed some good pitch-ability and efficiency. He doesn’t strikeout a lot of hitters but he is still just 22 (will turn 23 in the middle of the 2013 season) and while he is probably still a couple years away from establishing himself or even getting a legitimate shot in the big leagues (especially as a starter), lefties that can pitch and occasionally throw a fastball over 90 MPH always get their shot.

Bobby Lafromboise established himself in both AAA Tacoma and the AFL in 2012 by being an effective lefty out of the bullpen. His delivery most likely makes him a LOOGY (something the Mariners have), though it has been much publicized that he has done a good job of getting righties out in the minors as well. I imagine that he will get a legitimate shot to compete for Lucas Luetge (I think it is a toss up as far as to who is better) to make the team out of spring training, but that is really the only chance he has of making the roster in 2013 (other than a Oliver Perez or Charlie Furbush, two guys with injury histories, injury). He is already 26 and probably easily DFA’able if needed to be (though it would be unlikely he wouldn’t get claimed).

Brandon Maurer was another prospect that had a big 2012, as the 22 RHP had a big year in AA. Once a 23rd round pick, Maurer’s stuff matched his numbers, so much that some (including the Mariners reportedly) have included him in the same breath of James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, and Danny Hultzen. He is another example of why we shouldn’t take High Desert numbers too seriously as he was awful there in 2011. The key for him in 2013 will be staying healthy, as he had never come close to throwing 100 innings before 2012 (and he was shut down towards the end of the year for precautionary reasons). I just can’t see him pitching in the big leagues in 2013, but he could be a mid-rotation starter before it is all said and done.

Julio Morban is the only player that has not played in AA on the list, and a lot of that has to do with injuries. He played 80 games in 2011 then 82 games in 2012. The 20 year old left-handed outfielder seems to be playing less and less center-field. He may have to move to the corner permanently to protect himself from injuries. Predictably, he struggled in the pitcher friendly Midwest League and hit well in the California League. He is still very far from the Majors.

Just for fun, here is my rough rankings of those 5 players (ranked by how much impact I think they will have in the Majors. I will also have my 40 man ranking redone in December):

1. Brandon Maurer

2. Anthony Fernandez

3. Bobby Lafromboise

4. Julio Morban

5. Vinnie Catricala

Some interesting guys that weren’t protected (thanks to Matthew Carruth and Rick Randall for a few of the names):

Danny Farquhar:

Part of the Ichiro trade, he has bounced around and not gotten his shot in the Majors yet. Extremely effective against righties, but Stephen Pryor and Carter Capps have that road blocked right now. There is just not a lot of room for him, even though he is probably an effective big league reliever.

Brian Moran:

Had a great year for Tacoma. He is another lefty with below average stuff but good he can get lefties out with his delivery and command (that sounds really familiar). Almost a coin flip between him and Lafromboise really.

Andrew Carraway:

Interesting as a pitchability guy, either a 5th starter or long man/low leverage reliever long term.

Rich Poythress:

Sort of interesting 1st base prospect. Doesn’t hit for much power, but has decent peripherals. Already 25 but has had success in AA. AAA Tacoma will be his home in 2012.

Denny Almonte:

Interesting athlete that hasn’t put it together at the plate yet.

James Jones:

A former 4th round pick, the 24 year old (won’t turn 25 until the end of year)hasn’t reached AA yet. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Steven Hensley:

Age 25, right-handed reliever, really really struggled in Tacoma in 2012. Move along.

My rough rankings of these 7 players:

1. Rich Poythress

2. Brian Moran

3. Andrew Carraway

4. Danny Farquhar

5. Denny Almonte

6. James Jones

7. Steven Hensley

I think only Moran or Farquhar are really likely to be drafted in the Rule 5 as they are the only ones that could help a big league team enough to keep on a roster all year (at least right now).

Projections and Looking for Outfielders

FanGraphs has come out with their “Bill James” Projections and added them to the player pages. As more projections come out (especially ZiPS), they will also be added to the player pages and give us a better idea of what to expect from players in 2013 (but obviously they are projections, somewhat of a ballpark estimate that isn’t able to take everything into account, and just like us, they are sometimes fooled). But, right now we will just take a look at the Mariners through this projection system. The “Bill James” projections are obviously not done by the Bill James who currently works for the Red Sox. Instead, they are put out by Baseball Info Solutions (BIS), who are probably best known for their defensive data used by Baseball Reference. I am not a huge fan of these projections because the stats that are park adjusted (instead they seem to be somewhat neutralized, that is assuming neutral environments instead of taking in account ballparks). The projection also they uses K/9IP and BB/9IP instead of K% and BB%, which is not a good use of statistics. When we get to hitters, the projection does not use wRC +, it is just wRC, a totalling stat, not a rate stat. So without further qualifications, here is how the Mariners’ rotation shapes out:

Felix Hernandez: 3.18 ERA, 3.00 FIP, .66 HR/9IP, 8.38 K/9IP, 2.33 BB/9IP

Hisashi Iwakuma: no projection (Dave Cameron told me that they don’t project everyone, as we will see)

Jason Vargas: 3.82 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 1.19 HR/9IP, 5.93 K/9IP, 2.41 BB/9IP

Blake Beavan: 4.10 ERA, 4.12 FIP, 1.00 HR/9IP, 4.45 K/9IP, 1.55 BB/9IP

Erasmo Ramirez: 3.81 ERA, 3.52 FIP, .79 HR/9IP, 6.70 K/9IP, 1.90 BB/9IP

Hector Noesi: 4.53 ERA. 4.27 FIP, 1.11 HR/9IP, 6.74 K/9IP, 3.16 BB/9IP (interesting that it has him throwing a 171 innings, so pitching as a starter).

As you can see, the rotation still needs help. They don’t walk many, but there aren’t many strikeouts there and way too many homers allowed. The Bullpen:

Charlie Furbush: 3.89 ERA, 4.38 FIP, 1.46 HR/9IP, 8.51 K/9IP, 3.16 BB/9IP (wow, this is extremely pessimistic)

Oliver Perez: 4.74 ERA, 4.90 FIP, 1.42 HR/9IP, 8.29 K/9IP, 4.50 BB/9IP (simply not taking in account the difference in Perez from his Mets days to the hard throwing reliever he is now)

Tom Wilhelmsen: 3.58 ERA, 3.76 FIP, .81 HR/9IP, 8.19 K/9IP, 3.58 BB/9IP

Lucas Luetge: 3.79 ERA, 3.32 FIP, .47 HR/9IP, 8.53 K/9IP, 4.26 BB/9IP

Josh Kinney: 3.35 ERA, 3.15 FIP, .53 HR/9IP, 9.00 K/IP, 3.18 BB/9IP

Shawn Kelley: 3.07 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 1.02 HR/9IP, 9.00 K/IP, 2.86 BB/9IP

The projection system does not like the Mariners bullpen, at least not to have the same success they did last year. There is no projection on Stephen Pryor or Carter Capps. Now the position players:

Justin Smoak: .316 wOBA, 11.6 BB %, 19.2 K %, 1.4 Speed Score, .161 ISO, 65 wRC

Casper Wells: .331 wOBA, 9.3 BB %, 24.1 K %, 4.8 Speed Score, .201 ISO, 33 wRC

Eric Thames: .339 wOBA, 7.1 BB %, 22.9 K %, 4.4 Speed Score, .191 ISO, 47 wRC

Brendan Ryan: .266 wOBA, 7.9 BB %, 19.0 K %, 5.2 Speed Score, .078 ISO, 32 wRC

Jesus Montero: .344 wOBA, 7.1 BB %, 17.6 K %, 1.5 Speed Score, .181 ISO, 79 wRC (they see him taking a big step forward in 2013 and basically being the Mariners best hitter)

Franklin Gutierrez: .299 wOBA, 7.1 BB %, 20.2 K %, 4.5 Speed Score, .121 ISO, 53 wRC

Kyle Seager: .337 wOBA, 7.6 BB %, 15.1 K %, 3.7 Speed Score, .165 ISO, 78 wRC

Michael Saunders: .312 wOBA, 9.1 BB %, 23.2 K %, 5.8 Speed Score, .163 ISO, 63 wRC

John Jaso: .334 wOBA, 13.4 BB %, 12.1 K %, 3.7 Speed Score, .132 ISO, 40 wRC

Mike Carp: .318 wOBA, 9.2 BB %, 20.9 BB %, 2.1 Speed Score, .158 ISO, 18 wRC

Trayvon Robinson: .311 wOBA, 8.9 BB %, 26.3 K %, 5.7 Speed Score, .137 ISO, 41 wRC

Dustin Ackley: .306 wOBA, 10.5 BB %, 16.2 K %, 5.1 Speed Score, .121 ISO, 71 wRC

Chone Figgins: .292 wOBA, 10.6 BB %, 19.0 K %, 5.6 Speed Score, .079 ISO, 14 wRC (obviously they see more of a bounce back to 2010 levels)

No projection for Carlos Peguero, Alex Liddi or Carlos Triunfel.

How about some notable Free Agents:

Jeremy Guthrie: 4.20 ERA, 4.62 FIP, 1.23 HR/9IP, 5.39 K/9IP, 2.56 BB/9IP (would fit in the Mariners rotation, with a low walk rate, high HR rate, and low strikeout rate)

Maicer Izturis: .306 wOBA, 8.3 BB %, 12.2 K %, 4.8 Speed Score, .093 ISO, 35 wRC

Kelly Johnson: .319 wOBA, 11.0 BB %, 25.6 K %, 5.1 Speed Score, .166 ISO, 67 wRC.

Mike Napoli: .359 wOBA, 12.5 BB %, 28.0 K %, 2.9 Speed Score, .250 ISO, 75 wRC

Josh Hamilton: .376 wOBA, 8.9 BB %, 22.9 K %, 4.0 Speed Score, .251 ISO, 103 wRC

Cody Ross: .328 wOBA, 8.2 BB %, 23.7 K %, 3.1 Speed Score, .190 ISO, 64 wRC

Scott Hairston: .323 wOBA, 7.0 BB %, 20.8 K %, 4.3 Speed Score, .194 ISO, 40 wRC

Nick Swisher: .355 wOBA, 13.7 BB %, 22.7 K %, 2.6 Speed Score, .202 ISO, 92 wRC

I find the fact that Wells is projected above Ross a little funny, but informative as well. I definitely would take Wells defensively. Wells also has a better career wRC + (109 to 106) and OPS + (110 to 107). There is one major caveat though. While they are both right-handed hitters (Ross being the rare player that throws left-handed by bats right-handed), Ross has had the platoon advantage just 28% of the time in his career, while Wells has had the platoon advantage just 48% of the time. Since right-handed pitchers make up about 75 % of the pitchers in baseball, it is pretty clear that Ross has been treated as a every day player in his career (he has played in at least 120 games in every season since 2008), while the Tigers and Mariners have been more aware of the fact that Wells is more of a platoon hitter. The answer is all in the platoon splits. Wells has an awful .675 OPS against right-handed pitchers with a .838 OPS against left-handed pitchers. He is a good platoon option, especially since he has other skills besides hitting, but he is also just that, a platoon player. He shouldn’t play against right-handed hitters in an ideal world. Ross has a career .727 OPS against lefties, better than Wells, and a .928 OPS against right-handers, also better than Wells. It would seem that Ross is not only a better platoon option than Wells, but he could also hold his own against lefties, at least better than Wells can. You don’t feel very obligated to play Ross against lefties since he really lacks the other skills, but he is a very good platoon option. The problem is money. According to reported demands, Ross wants a pretty large contract at 3 years 27 million dollars. This is obviously too much for a platoon player if you are on a limited budget. The alternative seems to be Scott Hairston, who seems to have a smaller contract demands and is very similar in the rate parts of the projection. I have argued that the Mariners should go after Hairston already this off-season so I won’t belabor the point anymore. The alternative is to just keep Casper Wells and platoon him with some left-handed outfielder.

Raul Ibanez: .314 wOBA, 8.6 BB %, 17.7 K %, 2.8 Speed Score, .169 ISO, 51 wRC

Juan Pierre: .293 wOBA, 5.7 BB %, 6.7 K %, 6.2 Speed Score, .051 ISO, 42 wRC

Nate McLouth: .315 wOBA, 10.7 BB %, 18.0 K %, 5.6 Speed Score, .163 ISO, 53 wRC

Scott Podsednik: .294 wOBA, 7.1 BB %, 16.5 K %, 5.7 Speed Score, .084 ISO, 12 wRC

Melky Cabrera (Switch Hitter, no real splits career wise, better against lefties in 2012): .338 wOBA, 7.4 BB %, 12.8 K %, 5.2 Speed Score, .137 ISO, 86 wRC

Shane Victorino (Switch Hitter, much better against left-handed pitching): .327 wOBA, 8.3 BB %, 12.3 K %, 6.7 Speed Score, .149 ISO, 77 wRC.

Casper Wells against RHP for his career (i.e. not a projection): .298 wOBA, 5.2 BB %, 25.7 K %, 4.6 Speed Score (obviously regardless of splits) .158 ISO, 33.8 wRC (in 148 games)

So most of the above hitters would be better options than letting Wells face RHP. Obviously Ibanez is limited defensively, so much so that he is probably not a fit. McLouth is a better option than Pierre and Podsednik, who are both extremely limited (although McLouth was DFA’d by the Pirates early in the season before resurrecting with the Orioles). Another option is to use Trayvon Robinson against LHP. I have been bullish on Robinson, and this projection system is as well. Cabrera is an extremely interesting option as an every day player, but it is unclear what a contract for him may look like (right before I was ready to publish this, Cabrera signed a two year 16 million dollar deal with the Blue Jays). Victorino would make Wells redundant and would be more expensive, so I don’t see how he is a possible fit in Seattle.

Obviously, if the Mariners are willing to take on a big contract, a Nick Swisher, Josh Hamilton, or Mike Napoli signing would drastically improve the offense. As hitters are already coming off the board, the Mariners will have to make a move quickly before they get priced out.


Utility Infielders for the Mariners to consider on the Free Agent Market


Here we continue our series looking at cheap free agents the Mariners could consider this off-season. I am just looking at utility infielders here, so I am only looking at guys that can play shortstop. I will have a future post on 1st/2nd/and 3rd basemen in free agency. The Mariners will be looking for someone to play the role of Munenori Kawasaki, only someone better (which shouldn’t be hard). I have suggested Carlos Triunfel to fill this role, but the Mariners may want him to go back to Tacoma and play nearly everyday (which would mean Brad Miller would most likely start in AA Jackson, where he finished the season). If that is the Mariners plan, here are 3 free agents that the Mariners can go after to fill that role.

Jason Bartlett was recently a good shotrstop with the Tampa Bay Rays, but was traded to the San Diego Padres where he struggled, and then was released in the middle of 2012. He really struggled at the plate statistically with the Padres, especially in the limited opportunities he got in 2012. So was this a product of the big park, randomness, or did he really regress?

Career: 7.8 BB %, 14.9 K %, 20 LD %, .83 GB/FB, 252.335 average distance per batted ball

As a Padre: 8.4 BB %, 17.5 K %, 20 LD %, 1.05 GB/FB, 250.843 average distance per batted ball

So a few more strikeouts and ground-balls, but other than that, Bartlett’s numbers look pretty similar.

You don’t need the Bartlett of the Rays that had a 102 OPS +. A 88 OPS +, what he had for his career with the Twins, would be perfectly fine if he plays above average defense. It is kind of hard to imagine that he has regressed to a non MLB player at age 32. However, the Mariners have seen just that happen with a guy like Chone Figgins, who turned into a non MLB player at age 33.

He runs a 4.21 from the right side (at least when I timed him), so not bad at all. He is usually considered a pretty solid defender at shortstop. I think it would be interesting to at least take a serious look at Bartlett.

I am assuming that, playing in just 24 games before injuring his knee, Alex Gonzalez didn’t live up to his vesting option with the Brewers. He has always been a backup masquerading as a starter thanks to 2 pretty good years (2007 and 2010). He is simply not a very good hitter, and never really has been in his career.

He is a good, but non elite fielder at shortstop. I looked at the UZR/150 for guys with at least 3,000 innings of shortstop since 2008 and unsurprisingly, Brendan Ryan is a clear 1st and Gonzalez is 10th out of 30 (interestingly, Bartlett is towards the bottom despite being considered a good shortstop from everything I have seen. Former Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt is the worst).

He is really slow (4.53 to first), which isn’t that surprising considering his age (35). Offensively, he doesn’t really have platoon splits, which has both its negatives and positives. The positive is that you don’t have to take him out to play lefty/righty, but it also doesn’t allow you to play or use him exclusively against lefties to give you an advantage. It is much better to have a guy that is good against one platoon and terrible against another than to have a guy who isn’t very good against either.

Cesar Izturis

If you don’t like Brendan Ryan’s offense, you will absolutely hate Cesar Izturis’. However, like Ryan, he is considered to be a really good defender. Looking at a players’ highlight reel can be deceiving, but he is capable of plays like this. When you look at the UZR qualifiers from the criteria above, Izturis has been the 3rd best since 08, behind just Ryan and J.J. Hardy.

After playing just 18 games in the Majors in 2011, Izturis started 2012 with the Brewers and played in 57 games with an atrocious 54 OPS +, -1.1 WAA and -.6 bWAR despite getting a good defensive grade. The Nationals then plucked him off of waivers, only to let him play in 5 games before releasing him. In 1247 career games, he has been worth about 8 wins less than an average player, so about a win a season less than an average player. His offense has been worth just over 2 wins less than you would expect from a replacement player, but he has been worth 12 wins more than an average player defensively.

He is about an average runner, as I got anywhere between 4.18-4.22 on times to first, which is similar to what Speed Score and the Fans Scouting Report (they have him a little bit higher) tells us.

Basically, you never want Izturis to bat. You would want to use him basically as a defensive replacement (and he will obviously have to bat occasionally in spot starts etc.). However, since the Mariners two starting middle infielders are excellent defenders in Ryan and Dustin Ackley, it doesn’t seem that Izturis has a lot of value with this team. Kyle Seager’s defense at 3rd seems to be at least okay, and Izturis has only played 52 career games at 3rd. According to the Fans Scouting Report, his arm strength is the weakest of his defensive talents, though still solid and better than Seager’s. So Izturis could be a late inning replacement with the lead for Seager, and also allow you to pinch hit (with another player obviously) for Ryan in earlier innings if the situation calls for it and still not lose much defensively. I am not sure whether that is worth a lot of value and as a switch hitter Izturis is not really better from one side or the other. He is definitely worth a shot at a spring training invite/non guaranteed contract, but I am not sure he gives you much more value than Kawasaki did on a 25 man roster.

If you are looking for a starting shortstop, the market is really thin. Jhonny Peralta is not a real good defensive shortstop (though UZR likes him), and will reportedly have his contract option exercised by the Tigers. Marco Scutaro is also a free agent, and despite still having good range, Scutaro is 37 and probably not really a shortstop anymore. That is it. Those are the only sort of real starting options at shortstop in free agency this year. In my mind, this makes Brendan Ryan even more valuable.

The possible minor league free agents that can play shortstop produces some pretty laughable names. Andres Blanco has been roughly a replacement player in the utility role with Texas in the past, showing virtually no power, but decent defense and flexibility. He had a horrible offensive year with the Phillies AAA in 2012. Irving Falu is still on the Royals’ 40 man roster, but could be removed soon. He showed a little bit of athleticism when he was brought up for his debut earlier this year. However, he is 29 years old already and has just a .724 OPS in the 443 (!) PCL games. Gil Velazquez was the primary shortstop for the Marlins AAA team this year and has been a minor league veteran (with even more games in AAA than Falu), but hasn’t had much time in the Majors. The sub-.700 OPS in AAA for his career is probably why. Ed Lucas was the main shortstop for the Angels’ PCL team this year and hit okay and has played every position other than catcher on the diamond with some regularity. He has never made the majors and is 30 years old.

The problem is that the Mariners don’t need a AAA shortstop as mentioned above. If the free agent(s) the Mariners bring in to fight for the utility spot do not crack the 25 man roster, then they will probably just be released. Even if the ceilings on the shortstops in AA and AAA aren’t high, they are still depth. There is no reason to add a Andres Blanco or Cesar Izturis to Tacoma. In a rational world, you can add at least one of these utility guys to the 25 man roster, and maybe a 2nd when Chone Figgins is removed from the roster. Of course, you could replace Figgins with basically any position you wanted, and carrying three defensive shortstops would be rather redundant. However, we don’t live in a world that is always dictated by rational decisions, and Figgins will most likely be on the roster to start the season and let go mid-season when he plays poorly yet again.

Are the Mariners the A’s?

Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics

On the last day of the season, Angie Mentink of Root Sports mentioned the similarity of the Mariners in 2012 to the A’s in 2011. In 2011, the Athletics went 74-88 with a Pythagorean Record of 77-85. This year, the Mariners went 75-87 with a Pythagorean Record of 77-85. So obviously the similarity is there, but what was implicit in the mentioning was the possibility of the Mariners making the jump the Athletics did this season (this isn’t an attack or even a rebuttal of Mentink, I only mention her because she brought up the comparison, which inspired the article). The A’s had a Pythagorean Record of 92-70 this year, but are the Mariners in a position to be a serious competitor in the division and possibly even win it next year? Let’s compare the two rosters:


The Athletics had 7 players that played 67 games or more (that includes Chris Carter, if you want to up the number up to 100, they had 4 such players, with Jonny Gomes at 99 and Brandon Moss at 84 games. George Kottaras had a 104 wRC + in 27 games after being acquired from the Brewers) with an above league average wRC + (which is park adjusted). The Mariners had 3 such players (Franklin Gutierrez was above league average in 40 games, and Casper Wells sat at 99 wRC +). If you discount those with a .300 BABIP or more, it takes out 3 Athletics and no Mariners, but the A’s still have 1 more above league average hitter. As a team, the Athletics had a walk rate of 1.1% higher, and a strikeout rate of .9% lower. Oakland also had a .025 higher ISO than the Mariners to go along with Oakland’s much lower ground-ball rate and a higher line drive rate. Both teams hit a similar amount of infield fly-balls and Oakland had a slightly better HR/FB %.


The A’s had 14 players with an above average UZR while the Mariners had 12. According to Baseball Reference’s DRS (or D-WAR), Brendan Ryan saved nearly twice as many runs as the Athletics shortstop (and DRS leader) Cliff Pennington. Oakland had just 2 players with at least one defensive “win”, while the Mariners had 3 (and a much better peak guy with Ryan). However, the Athletics had a lot of guys worth 1 to 2 runs above average, leading to 13 players with positive DRS (the Mariners had 8). In all, the Mariners were given just 1.2 wins defensively according to UZR (Oakland had 4). It seems that while they had some elite defenders this year (Ryan, Ichiro, Ackley), they also had some really poor defenders (Montero, Jaso, Thames). Michael Saunders was also penalized by both major defensive metrics, which I found surprising (and perhaps even wrong. Saunders reputation is as a good defender, and was given positive ratings before this year. I am not sure if he is gotten worse).


The Mariners had 6 players with above average baserunning value according to Fangraphs. The A’s had 13, although many of them were by not much at all. If you set the baseline at 5 runs above average, the Mariners had 4 and the A’s have 5 (with one at exactly .5). The A’s still have all 4 (or 5) of those players, while the Mariners no longer have Ichiro Suzuki and another one of them is Chone Figgins who is obviously a disaster in other ways (and may not be with the team next year anyway). The Mariners had 8 players with speed scores over 5.0 (including Ichiro and Figgins), while the A’s had 6.

If you want to make it simpler and just use stolen bases, the A’s had 5 guys steal at least 10 bases, including Coco Crisp, who stole 39. The Mariners leader was Michael Saunders, who had 21. Ichiro was second with 15, while Seager, Ackley, and Ryan all had over 10. So slight advantage to the A’s there as well.

If the problem the Mariners have is that they have put too much emphasis on speed and defense, then they have a funny way of showing it, as they look like a slower team that the Athletics (and a worse defending team), who relied heavily on the home run offensively.


On the mound, the Athletics were better overall, slightly above average at 96 FIP -, while the Mariners were slightly below league average with a 103 FIP -.

Mariners pitching averaged a full MPH (92.1 to 91.1 MPH) better than A’s pitchers. The difference between the team’s starters was less (.3 MPH), but the Mariners still held a slight advantage. The bullpen was the big difference, as the A’s averaged 92.3 MPH, while the Mariners averaged 94.6 MPH (thanks in large part to Carter Capps and Stephen Pryor, but they are not the only hard throwers in Seattle’s bullpen). Mariners relievers used this velocity to strikeout 23.5% of the batters they faced, while the Athletics struck out 22.2%. As stated many times before, the Mariners strength this year was their bullpen. It was really good (they also walked .2% of batters less than the A’s bullpen). The Mariners rotation had an identical amount of walks (in percentage terms) and had a strikeout rate of about a percent better. However, they had more problems with the long ball that the Athletics simply didn’t have. As the ground-ball rates were almost identical, the Mariners mysteriously suffered from a HR/FB % problem. For all the talk about Safeco, and moving the fences in, the Mariners starters had a higher HR/FB % than 7 other teams, 3 of them non-playoff teams.

On one hand, the Mariners could say that their rotation was better down the stretch as it ditched Hector Noesi, but on the other hand, the return of Kevin Millwood or Hisashi Iwakuma is not guaranteed (if desired, especially in the former’s case), and who knows what you are going to get from Blake Beavan next season.

You could certainly make the case that the Mariners team is somewhat similar to the A’s this year. They still need at least a couple of more hitters, and they have to make sure the rotation doesn’t get away from them. The bullpen and defense gives them a chance if they are able to either hit or run more. There will be work to do this off-season, and they will have to compete not only with Oakland, but with a tough Texas Rangers team (and don’t forget about the Angels, who were good this year as well).

Looking at Out of Options Mariners

Trayvon Robinson

As the season ended (with an excellent 12-0 blowout of an Angel team that looked sloppy after being eliminated on Monday) on Wednesday, it became officially time to look at next year (even though we have already been doing that here).

Tacoma Broadcaster Mike Curto (@CurtoWorld) tweeted something that was interesting to me. He listed 5 players that had played with the AAA Tacoma Rainiers and the Seattle Mariners this year that were out of options. For those that are not familiar with the term (or just find the many rules of MLB rosters and transactions confusing), here is Rob Neyer explaining the situation:

When a player is on the 40-man roster but not on the 25-man Major League roster, he is on “optional assignment.” One common misconception about the rules is that a player may only be “optioned out” three times. Actually, each player has three option years, and he can be sent up and down as many times as the club chooses within those three seasons.

When you hear that a player is “out of options,” that means he’s been on the 40-man roster during three different seasons, beginning with his fourth as a pro, and to be sent down again he’ll have to clear waivers

If a player placed on Major League waivers is not claimed by another team during the three business days after waivers have been requested, then the players is said to have “cleared waivers,” and the team has secured waivers for the remainder of the waiver period.

This generally means one of three things:

(1) They can send him to the minors (subject to his consent, if he’s a “Veteran Player,” more on that below).

(2) They can release him, which makes the player a free agent and thus available to sign with any team.

(3) They can trade him to another team, even if the so-called “trading deadline” has passed. Any trades made after July 31 may only involve players who have cleared waivers.

If a player doesn’t clear waivers — in other words, if he’s claimed by another team or teams — the club requesting waivers may withdraw the waiver request.

If the club doesn’t withdraw the waiver request, the player’s contract is assigned in the following manner:

(A) If only one claim is entered, the player’s contract is assigned to that claiming club.

(B) If more than one club in the same league makes claims, the club currently lower in the standings gets the player.

(C) If clubs in both leagues claim the player, preference shall always go to the club in the same league as the club requesting waivers.

So this situation applies to 5 Mariners (actually more, but guys like Jason Vargas and Franklin Gutierrez are not going to be demoted to Tacoma): Mike Carp, Josh Kinney, Hector Noesi, Trayvon Robinson, and Casper Wells. So going into next season, the Mariners are going to have to make the decision as to whether or not these players are worth keeping on their roster, or risk losing them (the links attached to each player is my latest article on each):

Mike Carp

With the (at least apparent) revitalization of Justin Smoak, Mike Carp looks pretty expendable. He is really only a first baseman, and it looks like the Mariners will give Smoak another start as the main first baseman going into 2013. The Mariners lack an immediate replacement to backup first baseman (unless the Mariners move Montero to 1st, which seems likely as John Jaso apparently failed in Spring Training this year), so Carp may be asked to just fill that role for now. Or, as rumors have been circling, he may actually be traded. There were actually rumors during the season that he would be DFA’d after a disappointing rehab assignment ended, but that probably wasn’t a realistic situation. He could be a solid bench player for some team, but really struggled to find playing time at the end of the year. I would be a little surprised (but not this surprised) if he was a Mariner next year (the Mariners may choose to replace him with a cheap veteran to play first, or even play Dustin Ackley at 1st on days Smoak doesn’t start, which I personally don’t think is a good idea).

Josh Kinney

Kinney is arbitration eligible this offseason. I suppose that he could be a useful piece going into next year with the Mariners, but he doesn’t exactly have a lot of value. I most likely would non-tender him. I would invite him to sign a minor league contract to come back to the Mariners, but would be shocked if he took it. Though not worthless, he is a guy you can afford to lose, especially with the Mariners bullpen situation.

Hector Noesi

I think this pretty much solidifies his role as a bullpen pitcher. They won’t be able to send him down to Tacoma to work as a starter anymore. He clearly showed this season that he is not a MLB starter at this point, and barring some really weird event in the winter or spring (I don’t know if he is going to pitch in Winter ball, he got plenty of innings this year, so there is a good chance he won’t), he won’t be a MLB starter in the spring. I think everyone can agree that he has looked good in the bullpen in his last couple of outings, and I think the Mariners can stick him in there instead of risking losing him (he simply throws too hard to be pushed through waivers, someone would claim him). If he can improve his slider (the only secondary pitch he will need in the bullpen unless he wants to throw an occasional changeup), he could be a really good bullpen piece for the Mariners. With Carter Capps, Stephen Pryor, and Charlie Furbush already in the bullpen, a Hector Noesi could allow the Mariners to trade Tom Wilhelmsen if they are not in serious contention in June/July and help the Mariners get new talent into the system. It is apparent that the plan of getting Noesi in the Jesus Montero deal was not to put him in the bullpen, but reality must be accepted. The Mariners would be seriously hurting their chances of winning by using him in the rotation or risk losing him by sending him to Tacoma. I could see him possibly being used as a swing man/emergency starter for the first half of the season (until one of the big 3 or Brandon Maurer is ready), but I would love to see him pitch in a 1 inning/match up type role where Eric Wedge can just give him the ball against mainly right-handers and tell him to throw as hard as he can for 60 or so innings a year.

Trayvon Robinson

Robinson played in 44 games last year and struck out nearly 40% of the time and had a wRC + of 64. This year, he played in 45 games, and didn’t improve that much as far as results go, with a 72 wRC +. However, his walk rate improved, and his strikeout rate went down (but was still too high). He has shown a little potential for power, but at the end of the day, he has a .327 SLG and .116 ISO in 89 games in the Majors.

Evidence also suggests that he was more consistent on the bases and defensively this season. His arm really limits him, and with Saunders and Gutierrez on the team, there isn’t a point in letting him play centerfield.

Casper Wells

The 2013 Mariner outfield situation going into spring training will probably look something like this: Saunders, Gutierrez (when not on the DL), Thames (who evidently still has options),Wells, Robinson, and a free agent. I figure they have to sign someone in the free agent market that will make the big league club. It may or may not be a real impact guy, but I doubt that the Mariners can go into Spring Training with a straight face without at least one new MLB outfielder.

Wells’ stock is obviously higher than Robinson’s now, but Wells wasn’t very impressive with the bat this season. He struck out a lot (25.7%), walked less than Robinson (8.0%), and hit for a little power, but not as much as you would expect (.160 ISO). Interestingly, this year broke a string going back to 2007 where Casper Wells was an above average hitter (according to wRC +) at whatever league he happened to be playing in at the time.

If nothing else, he has a better throwing arm as shown by his throw out of Mike Trout at home plate on the final day of the season. He is a solid outfielder on the corners with decent to good speed (I’ve gotten a 4.16 to first base from him, which is pretty quick, especially from a right-handed hitter). Wells is probably the Mariners “4th outfielder” (assuming they sign a free agent), while Robinson is the 5th outfielder.

I would much rather see Thames sent down than risking losing Robinson (Thames’ lack of on base skills and defensive problems are certainly a big reason). Alex Liddi and Carlos Peguero should start in Tacoma and probably stay there (especially Peguero). When I originally started this post, I wrote that even though it made sense for Chone Figgins to be released, there was no reason to think he would not be a Mariner next year. Recent news suggests that perhaps we shouldn’t assume this. They really don’t have anyone in AA or AAA that is knocking down the door to be in the Majors. This is why bringing in at least one serious (by serious I mean a player that has a high probability of being helpful in the Majors) outfielder is going to be so important this off-season. Because of that, I hope to look at a few free agent outfielders this off-season and do scouting reports on them.

Gutierrez Up, Wells Down, Serenity Now


The Mariners activated Franklin Gutierrez today.

Gutierrez had been on the the disabled list (technically the 7-day concussion list) since he was hit in the head by a pick-off throw about 2 months ago. The play looked rather innocent, but it obviously turned out to be a big deal (as concussions usually are). He didn’t have to play out his full rehab appearance (it could have been up to 20 days) in Tacoma, playing just 7 games. He looked to be ready though, playing a little defense and looking decent at the plate. I was a little surprised that the team didn’t wait until September 1st when the rosters expand to 40, but Gutierrez, when healthy, is clearly worthy of a 25 man roster spot on this team.

The more surprising move was Casper Wells going back to Tacoma. While Wells was good coming back from Tacoma the first time, he had been slumping quite a bit and while at one time being an average outfielder, was down to a 90 wRC +. He looks like a pretty good defensive outfielder and even got some time in centerfield in the series against the White Sox. Casper Wells will turn 28 in the off-season. He still won’t be arbitration eligible this off-season, but it looks like Wells is not a key part of the Mariners future. If he was, he wouldn’t be sent down to AAA at age 28 when the Mariners are not in a playoff race.

Of course, we all know of a player who isn’t playing very often (and when he did play on Saturday, he played terrible) and has no place in the Mariners future. Chone Figgins has no position, can’t play shortstop (which is the only reason Kawasaki is on the team), and just cannot hit anymore. He is still owed 8 million dollars next season, but no one needs me to use a bunch of numbers to show that he doesn’t deserve a roster spot. The 40 man roster is completely full,  giving the team a lot less flexibility when it comes to roster adjustments in September. Why not designate Figgins to create an open roster spot on the 40 man and allow Wells and Gutierrez to be on the same team. Figgins provides no value. There isn’t a point in keeping him around. Now Wells has to wait until September 3rd, when the Tacoma season ends, to be brought back up. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

Mariners Lose to White Sox, Tacoma beats Las Vegas


The Mariners lost to the White Sox 5-4

Jose Quintana has been putting up really good numbers (2.76 ERA/3.83 FIP/4.30 SIERA before the game) despite a real lack of stuff (91-92 MPH fastball, occasionally hitting 93 MPH, without an elite breaking ball), but the Mariners made him regress to the mean. Dustin Ackley used his speed to get on base with an infield single and after a Trayvon Robinson walk, Kyle Seager knocked a ball out of the park to right field. He knocked one out of the park to center field to keep things alive in the 9th.

Justin Smoak looked bad at the plate (batting right-handed) when he actually saw strikes, but to his credit, he did take a few breaking pitches low for a walk in the 1st. He walked later in the game as well against a wild Matt Thornton. Quintana had real problems throwing strikes, especially with his breaking pitches. It looks like his SIERA was the most accurate number. Miguel Olivo did the Olivo thing and chased to ground-out, but Casper Wells walked as well. Unfortunately, Trayvon Robinson had a long (8 pitch) at-bat in his 2nd time but weakly flew out on a pitch down the middle (he also weakly grounded out on a pitch that caught a lot of the late). He also had seriously problems with Addison Reed’s velocity. Quintana really settled down after the first inning until Dustin Ackley hit the ball the other way to the warning track. It was an out, but it is good to see him make hard contact. Seager hit a similar ball in the same area and it was also an out. Smoak hit a ball hard on the ground and Olivo hit a ball to the warning track (although not on a line like Ackley and Seager). Eric Thames had a good long at-bat before dribbling a grounder up the middle against Brett Myers.

I made fun of Chone Figgins starting and playing centerfield on the forums, but he did make a nice play at the wall on an Adam Dunn drive. His 2nd chance against the wall did not go near as well, as he whiffed on a ball that Alex Rios hit on a hanging slider off Josh Kinney. Olivo had a tough pitch to throw on, but really made a poor throw, nearly hitting a crouching Beavan. The next chance he got, Olivo delivered, throwing an absolute strike to 2nd for an easy out.  He had major problems blocking the ball in the 8th inning when Lucas Luetge came into the game (who was pretty wild). Robinson couldn’t get to a ball that I really thought he should have. Technically, he got to it, he just didn’t get the glove on the grounder and it went under his glove.

Blake Beavan was getting good movement on his fastball (mostly 91-92 MPH) to start the outing. However, he couldn’t control it. His breaking ball was also hanging in the zone as well. He was attempting to backdoor Adam Dunn, who torched the Mariners last night, with the curve and had some success getting a called strikeout (with a little help from the umpire). The fastball was too hittable though and he was walking guys, which he cannot do with his low strikeout totals. Since being promoted back to the Majors, he had walked just 3 guys. He walked 3 guys in the first 2.1 innings in this game. He hit Youkilis in the 5th in the back, further evidence that his control was just not there. He was not good, and the numbers (7.30 FIP and 7.64 xFIP) reflected that.

Charlie Furbush was 91-92 MPH on his fastball, but was mainly relying on his curve/slider against lefties, which is pretty normal. He had problems putting away Jordan Danks, as he was fouling away breaking balls that Furbush was throwing for strikes. He got him to ground-out then got his fastball up to 93 MPH up high to get a pop out foul when there was a guy on third with 1 out.  He then had problems putting away Dewayne Wise and it eventually cost him as a fastball down the middle was hit on a line for an RBI single.


Brett Cecil (a personal cheeseball of mine) started for the 51’s and brought his slightly below average fastball with solid breaking stuff, which is usually a challenge for Tacoma. It wasn’t quite a typical day for the Tacoma offense though

Luis Jimenez was absolutely fooled by a pitch but beat out an infield single. If that wasn’t enough, he stole a base as well. He did traditional Jimenez things later with a double.

Carlos Peguero had one of the ugliest swings you will see at a park on what turned out to be a double on a low changeup.

Alex Liddi’s march against contact continued as he struck out swinging in the 2nd.In his next at-bat, he got a high fastball outside and was actually able to pull it for a line drive single.

Vinnie Catricala had a long at-bat, and actually walked.

Carlos Triunfel hit a ball hard to the wall, which was refreshing considering how bad he has been lately.He reverted back to bad Triunfel quickly though, striking out on a breaking pitch. He made a really good play at short though. When it is accurate (which it often isn’t), his arm is plus plus.

Nick Franklin had an ugly strikeout on a changeup in the dirt, which has been the story of his AAA career. He did walk though and creamed a fastball up high (but it was turned into an out).

Darren Ford got on the first two times, but was caught stealing again. It wasn’t even very close. This has been a huge problem for Ford. With his speed, he should not be caught stealing 13 times out of 37. Especially if he is going to slug .375 in the PCL. He also hit into a double play. Again, I would rather have Trayvon Robinson.

Erasmo Ramirez struck out 3 batters in the first inning (and then had to get another one as one of the strikeouts actually reached base). He was missing bats but his delivery looked a little more violent than I remember it being in previous outings.  He was throwing strikes with all his pitches and getting ahead and missing bats and getting weak contact. You can’t ask for anything else. The 4th was a little bit of a problem though, as he walked a batter and then gave up a hard drive by Luke Hughes to Franklin Gutierrez. He got out of the inning without the runner reaching 2nd though. Through 7 scoreless innings, Erasmo had 6 strikeouts and just 1 walk. At just under 90 pitches, he was brought back out for the 8th inning and continued to pitch well. He got a whiff down low, but then gave up a bloop single. Against Brian Bocock, he kept his fastball away but a breaking ball got away from Guillermo Quiroz to advance the runner to 2nd. A ground-ball (and nice play by Franklin at 2nd) moved the runner to 3rd but got the first out. Needing a strikeout, he got to face Anthony Gose, who is a definite strikeout candidate. After getting ahead with 2 strikes, Erasmo strangely turned to a lot of fastballs and watched Gose foul a couple of them off. He would walk him, ending his outing.

Shawn Kelley then took over and got a called strike with a good changeup and got a fly-out on an inside fastball. Las Vegas would run themself out of the inning but not before Kelley got a big whiff on his fastball. Kelley came out to pitch the 9th and dispatched of Yan Gomes with a high fastball. Luke Hughes struck out swinging to end the game.


Ranking the Players on the Mariners 40 Man Roster


With September quickly approaching, many teams (especially losing teams) will want to bring up young players when rosters expand to 40. However, for one to be brought up, they have to be placed on the 40 man roster. So here I rank the players on the Mariners 40 man roster from 1-40. With the off-season coming upon us as well, this list could be used as an consultant. Perhaps one could look at this list as “who should we DFA first?” (with the 40th being the player that should be DFA’d first). With the Mariners in the positon they are currently in (i.e. last), guys that are not under contract next year are heavily penalized.

1. Felix Hernandez: No need to add much to this.

2. Danny Hultzen: Perhaps a little aggressive for a player that has never played in the Majors and has a 4.02 SIERA in the PCL, but he was the top pick for the Mariners in 2011.

3. Dustin Ackley: Tough offensive year, but there is potential in the bat, great glove, and team control

4. John Jaso: Team’s best hitter and under team control. I believe he starts arbitration this off-season.

5. Charlie Furbush: Putting roles aside (especially the “closer” role), Furbush has been better than Wilhelmsen this year. Great left-handed bullpen piece with a lot of team control left.

6. Tom Wilhelmsen: He is really good and has a lot of team control left.

7. Erasmo Ramirez: My opinion on Erasmo has been really changed this year. He should be in the rotation right now. Will be a Mariner for a long time (barring a trade).

8. Kyle Seager: That Seager is this high really reflects on the Mariners more than Seager. He isn’t a bad player, but he isn’t really good either. Lots of team control.

9. Jesus Montero: Wasn’t a big fan of him before the trade, even less so now. However, there are way too many years of control and there was way too much currency (in terms of players) paid for Montero to not give him every opportunity possible.

10. Brendan Ryan: I am higher than Ryan than almost everyone else. He is the best defensive shortstop in baseball. He will be a free agent after 2013, the Mariners should extend him.

11. Casper Wells: I have always liked Casper, but this ranking has more to do with the Mariners (.4 O-WAR according to Baseball Reference in 69 games this year) than Wells.

12. Jason Vargas: I am guessing that they extend him or trade. He will be a free agent after the 2013 season.

13. Stephen Pryor: Hard throwing reliever with at least 5 more years of control. There is always value in that.

14. Michael Saunders: Really resurrected his career, but is still basically average.

15. Carter Capps: Another hard throwing reliever that hits 100 MPH. His breaking ball is not as good as Pryor’s, which is why he is rated lower.

16. Blake Beavan: Back of the rotation starter with some team control.

17. Francisco Martinez: Taken a big step back this year, but tools and potential in the bat. The key part in the Doug Fister deal, hopefully will be tearing up the PCL sometime next year.

18. Mike Carp: He is your first baseman right now, and is serviceable and cheap.

19. Trayvon Robinson: I’m still a believer. Way too early to give up now.

20. Eric Thames: Not a big fan, but a lot of years of control still left.

21. Johermyn Chavez: Still just 23. Put up about league average numbers in AA this year so far with an improved walk rate. Tools are a plus but he struggled with some injuries this year.

22.Justin Smoak: As bad as he is and has been, he still isn’t arbitration eligible until after the 2013 season.

23. Hector Noesi: A right-handed reliever that throws pretty hard and is under team control for several more years.

24. Alex Liddi: Basically a replacement player. Lack of other options is the only reason he isn’t lower.

25. Oliver Perez: What a story. He is my highest rated guy out of players that will be free agents after this season. Why? He throws 95 and is left-handed. I am curious to see how this plays out and whether the Mariners will try to re-sign him.

26. Franklin Gutierrez: When healthy, he is a pretty good player. Just can’t stay healthy. Still on the DL.

27. Lucas Luetge: Lot of team control and has been pretty good this year. Is expendable though and is redundant in a bullpen with Perez and Furbush.

28. Shawn Kelley: I am curious to see what they do with him this off-season with arbitration looming. Serviceable reliever, but this is the Mariners strong point.

29. Chance Ruffin: If I didn’t still believe in him, he would be much lower.Really disappointing season in Tacoma.

30. Carlos Triunfel: He will play in the big leagues some day, but his upside is utility player. Have not liked what I’ve seen in Tacoma at all.

31. D.J. Mitchell: Probably a future reliever, although he has been solid since coming in the Ichiro deal. Still like Farquhar (who isn’t on the 40 man but I imagine will be next year) better.

32. Yeorvis Medina: Having a decent season in Jackson after a slow start. Possible trade bait in the off-season.

33. Kevin Millwood: Been pitching really nice for the Mariners this year but his contract is up at the end of the year. Still have no idea why he wasn’t traded.

34. Hisashi Iwakuma: Currently holding a rotation spot, would be shocked if he still was in September. Free agent after the year is over.

35. Carlos Peguero: He has proven that he is not a big league player. If there was a manual on what constitutes a AAAA player, Peguero would be on the cover.

36. Josh Kinney: A pleasant surprise as a minor league free agent, he still doesn’t provide much value for the team down the stretch as a reliever who won’t be under contract next year.

37. Mauricio Robles: Still young at 23, but he has a 6.18 FIP and 5.75 SIERA over the last two years, mostly at AA. He started the year at Tacoma but couldn’t throw strikes and was sent down.

38. Miguel Olivo: Won’t be a Mariner next year. The only reason I wouldn’t release him now is that the catcher situation gets somewhat complicated, especially if you want to play Jaso and Montero at the same time (if you end up having to bring up Guillermo Quiroz and put him on the 40 man roster, then you have accomplished nothing).

39. Munenori Kawasaki: He won’t be under contract next year, and is pretty bad at baseball.

40. Chone Figgins: Perhaps one could say that nothing should be added here as well. While he is owed over 10 million dollars in guaranteed money, keeping a terrible player on the roster doesn’t help you either.

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