Tag Archives: Mike Carp

Red Sox Acquire Mike Carp From Mariners

Mike Carp Mariners 1
Mike Carp

Mike Carp looks happy

Last night I mentioned that Mike Carp was nearing his end with the Seattle Mariners and this morning, less than 24 hours later, he’s a member of the Boston Red Sox.

The Mariners haven’t gotten anything for Carp just yet. A player-to-be-named or cash considerations is all they’ll get. If a player does end up coming back to the Mariners it won’t be anyone spectacular and it’s doubtful he’ll even contribute to the 2013 squad.

Personally I’m a little sad to see Carp leave. His 2011 rookie season was solid and it looked like the Mariners had a solid young first baseman on their hands in case Justin Smoak didn’t pan out.

That 2011 season saw Carp hit .276, 17 doubles, 12 HR and 46 RBI in 79 games – the most Carp appeared in with the Mariners in one season.

With Kendrys Morales, Justin Smoak and a plethora of outfielders battling for playing time, there was no real opportunity for Carp on the 2013 roster. The Mariners couldn’t send him down to triple A because he’d run out of options so the Mariners had to designate him for assignment.

Other than the Brewers, who were in need of a first baseman with injuries to their starter, Mat Gamel, and primary backup, the Red Sox were seen as the next best destination for Carp.

Don’t be surprised if Carp turns into the next ex Mariner that finds his offensive groove playing elsewhere.

Mike Carp Nearing End

carp 2

carp 1Mike Carp will likely cease being a Seattle mariner in the next few days. Maybe even in the next 24 hours.

Jack Zduriencik has had conversations with multiple organizations and there is interest in the first baseman and outfielder. The Twins, Red Sox, Astros and Brewers are a few of the teams that Larry Stone names in his post at the Times.

The Brewers especially seemed to be a fit with Mat Gamel out for the season with a knee injury. The Brewers have said that they’ll try to first look at internal solutions but that doesn’t mean they’re not a possible destination for Carp.

Mike Carp is only 26-years old and former Mariners do have a reputation for improved offensive production once they leave. Adrian Beltre, Shin Soo Choo, and Mike Morse, who is back with the Mariners are a few examples of players that have become much greater contributors to their new teams after leaving the once spacious Safeco Field.

Carp is unlikely to fetch anything of solid value in a trade since he has already been designated.

The Mariners sign Garland, Former Mariners Disperse Elsewhere

jon garland mariners

jon garland mariners

The past couple of days have been extremely busy when it comes to Mariner notes, so here is another collection of information and thoughts.

Friday evening, it was announced that the Mariners had signed Jon Garland to a minor league deal. Jason Churchill had been talking about how the Mariners were interested in him and watched him throw. Evidently they liked what they saw. I don’t have any info on the throwing session, and Garland didn’t pitch in 2012, so here I will just look at what Garland was when he was pitching. This is limited info and it is hard to currently know what is and isn’t relevant, but, just like with the Jeremy Bonderman signing, but less extreme since Bonderman hasn’t pitched in two years.

It is possible that with a year off, one or both have gained a lot of velocity and gotten healthy. It could technically be possible that both have lost a lot of velocity or stuff, but it would be unlikely they would be signed, even on a minor league deal, if they had lost a lot of velocity. So here, we will just assume (or infer from the data that he was signed) Garland is about the same when it comes to stuff as he was in 2011. Garland originally looked like he had a MiLB deal with the Indians in 2012, but strangely refused to take the physical and was released. In 2011, he made 9 starts in the Majors with the Dodgers, throwing 54 innings (limited thanks to shoulder issues).

While his actual run prevention numbers weren’t bad, he struck out just 12.2 % of batters and walked 8.7% of them. His fastball lost a full MPH, sitting at just 88.2 MPH, well below average for a right-hander and lower than new Mariner Joe Saunders. His sinker lost 2 MPH according to basic Pitch F/X data and he seemed to use it more as well (though Brooks Baseball suggests he didn’t. The classifications of the different kind of fastballs remains the most pervasive scouting problem in Pitch F/X). He also used the combination of his curve and slider more. He was a 200 inning pitcher as recently as 2010, when the Padres made a magical run that ended in a one game playoff. His peripherals still weren’t good, but thanks mostly to Petco, he did a good job of limiting homers. He has also consistently outperformed his peripherals in his career, thanks to a low BABIP, lower than average OPS on ground-balls and fly-balls, and solid IFFB%.

Again, since we don’t know what he looks like scouting wise, projecting Garland for 2013 is hard, but Oliver projects a .297 BABIP for some reason (almost .015 points higher than his career and recent averages) and 4.29 ERA/4.19 FIP (again, why is he predicted to under perform his peripherals?). I don’t think you should take that very seriously. When he has pitched in the past, his heat maps have shown that he keeps the ball low, avoiding high and inside to righties especially. With Safeco projecting to play like a normal park in 2013 (according to my estimation and batted ball studies), this will be helpful, especially if he can get a lot of ground-balls for Brendan Ryan and Dustin Ackley to eat up.

I am extremely interested in seeing the Pitch F/X data of both Garland and Bonderman when they pitch in Pitch F/X Spring Training parks this year. The obvious comparisons for these two veterans is Kevin Millwood’s 2012, but he actually pitched the previous year, and even though I didn’t believe it at the time, showed signs of competence in Colorado in 2011. Expecting either of these two to perform like Millwood did is just unrealistic and unlikely. The Mariners have got a lot of help from players that were expected to do nothing over the last 2 seasons (Wilhelmsen, Delabar, Perez, and Kinney come to mind), so maybe they have a good eye for this kind of talent, but that doesn’t explain why they have had serious problems evaluating prospects in trades (Chiang and Smoak come to mind). It would seem, that while evaluating skill certainly plays a role, they have also been pretty lucky in this regard.

The Orioles designated Trayvon Robinson for assignment for Todd Redmond. I wrote about Todd Redmond here and find it a little odd, that even with the Orioles mediocre rotation depth, that they would trade Redmond for Robinson. I don’t think Redmond is a big league pitcher. Of course, I thought at the time of the Robert Andino/Robinson trade that the Orioles got the better part of the deal. I think I am the last Robinson believer. It is funny that both players in the trade have already been exposed since the trade before ever playing for the team (Andino was non-tendered before a deal was quickly reached). It won’t happen, but it would be cool to see the Mariners claim Robinson and have him replace Peguero, and designate Jason Bay to make room for Joe Saunders (or as Churchill suggested, trade Yoervis Medina or Mike Carp for low level prospects not on 40 man rosters).

Chone Figgins signed a minor league deal with the Marlins. This is a pretty obvious destination as the team seriously needs a 3rd baseman. Obviously Figgins was a disaster in Seattle, and there isn’t any real reason to believe that he will return to the form he showed with the Angels that got him the contract with Seattle, but NRIs are designed to work this way. They aren’t married to him, just like Seattle isn’t married to Garland or Bonderman, and the Marlins were not married to the obviously washed up Aaron Rowand last season.

Mark Lowe signed a minor league deal with Dodgers. Lowe was the other pitcher Seattle sent to Texas in the Cliff Lee/Justin Smoak trade. He was an interesting case because he was injured at the time with a back injury and didn’t come back until late September and really struggled for the Rangers. Overall, he pitched 87.1 innings with Texas, at a .3 WAR and -.2 WAA pace. In 2012, despite an injury that cost him time, he was excellent in 39.1 innings, with a .6 WAA, pitching pretty successfully despite pitching in an average park factor of 111.9, which is over 20% of a more offensive friendly environment than what Safeco played. With that said, he did see a drop in strikeouts and velocity. His FIP – was about career average, and he clearly knew he wasn’t throwing as hard, as he threw more sliders than he ever has.

He has always been known as a hard thrower, but hasn’t really put it all together in the Majors, at least not like you would think. Just on statistics, you would think he was worth a MLB deal, but teams seem to be concerned with the injury risk, and the decreased velocity. Churchill reported that the Mariners were one of the teams that were interested in Lowe and watched in throw in a recent workout in Arizona (along with former Mariner Ryan Rowland-Smith). Evidently they were not impressed, or the Dodgers came with a better offer. At a random AA Frisco game I went to in 2012, he pitched on a rehab assignment and happened to give up a monster home run to Padres prospect Edinson Rincon. Enjoy.

Mariners sign Kelly Shoppach

shoppach

The Mariners have signed catcher Kelly Shoppach to a MLB deal worth 1.5 million dollars with an extra 500,000 to be gained in incentives.

Shoppach started 2012 with the Red Sox, splitting time with Jarrod Saltalamachia, before he was traded to the Mets. He had a solid offensive year, with a 97 OPS + (Jesus Montero had a 95 OPS +), right around his career average (96 OPS +).

Offensively, Kelly Shoppach is known for his gigantic platoon splits, as he is good against lefties but very bad against righties. For his career, the 32 year old has a .510 SLG against lefties, but .368 SLG against righties. He strikes out nearly 35% of the time against righties, which is shocking. Against lefties, he isn’t much better at making contact, striking out nearly 31 % of the time. The difference is walks, as Shoppach walks 9.7% of the time against lefties and just 7.5 % against righties. Unfortunately, these are the same platoon splits that Jesus Montero showed in 2012. As evidenced by the platoon splits, Shoppach is known to hit for not much average, but with some pop and walks. Since coming into the league in 2005, his .192 ISO ranks 7th out of all qualified catchers, better than Miguel Olivo, MVP Buster Posey, and Salty. The strikeouts are really unprecedented though, as he has a higher strikeout rate than not only all of the qualified catchers since 2005 (Salty is 2nd), but all of the qualified hitters as well (even worse than Mark Reynolds and former Mariners Russell Branyan and Jack Cust). He used to be more of a ground-ball hitter, but over the last two seasons he has been hitting more fly-balls, which seems like a pretty good idea, considering his career OPS on fly-balls is over 1.200 (when league average is a little over .800). This also suggests that he has pretty real power and strength. Even on the wrong side of 30, Shoppach’s power doesn’t seem to be going away, as his ISO was at career averages in 2012.

However, Shoppach had two really bad seasons in a row in 2010 and 2011. Even though his peripherals were a little bit bet than they were in 2012, he had an OPS of less than .650 and didn’t hit for the same power he was accustomed to.  As usual, I looked at batted ball distance to see if we could see a trend. From 2007 to 2009, when he had a 112 OPS + with Cleveland, his average batted ball went 275.8 feet, which is very good. In his two years with Tampa, 2010-2011, Shoppach’s average batted ball went about 266 feet, which isn’t bad, but obviously a big drop (considering he had 440 plate appearances with the Rays, it was about 3960 feet lost, or about 10 homers worth of feet). In 2012, Shoppach was actually worse despite the improved numbers, with about 261 feet per batted ball. So why did the numbers change so much?

My first suspicion is park. The Tampa Bay Rays park plays pitcher friendly, rated at about a 92, with 100 being average, in park factors. However, home/road splits don’t seem to be very helpful, considering he was better at home one year with the Rays, and better on the road the other year. In 2012, with the Mets and Red Sox, he was about equal (slightly better at home) on the road or at home. Since he played a lot of the year with the Red Sox, AL East pitching doesn’t seem to be a very good explanation. BABIP seems to be big reason for the difference, as his 2012 was an unsustainable .352 (career average .314) and while in 2010 his BABIP was about his career average, his 2011 BABIP was .100 points lower. His ground-ball rate and infield fly-ball rates were either career highs or very close to career highs in 2010, but this wasn’t his low BABIP year. So perhaps what Shoppach actually is as a hitter is somewhere in between, that is, somewhere in between a 71 OPS + player and a 96 OPS + hitter. That is a pretty big range, but he is a below average hitter (which can be okay for a catcher), that seems to be regressing power wise, both according to batted ball data and according to HR/FB %. Even with the new Safeco fences, I don’t think he will hit for a whole lot of power for the Mariners. However, he should run into a few balls and fits into the overall theme of the Mariners off-season as an older bad body player with some pop.

kelly

On the bases, he is considered one of the slowest players in the league and has sometimes made a fool of himself trying to run. However, his 2.3 speed score is better than Ronny Paulino’s and Montero has been trying to “learn how to run”, so it is hard to complain about this aspect of his game (especially since speed is pretty irrelevant when evaluating catchers).

Kelly Shoppach is considered a good defensive catcher by many, but as Marc of USS Mariner pointed out, catcher defense is extremely hard to quantify and both philosophy and data is constantly evolving. Personally, in just watching him over the years, I haven’t thought that Shoppach is a particularly strong defensive catcher. In 2012, he was a borderline starter, as he was about 33rd in plate appearances caught in the Majors. According to Matt Klaassen’s defensive catcher rankings, Shoppach was worth -1.6 runs in 2012, which would place him at about the level of Russell Martin and Mike Nickeas at about 90th place of about 116 catchers. Obviously that run value is bad, but Russell Martin didn’t hit much at all in 2012 and still get a 2 year deal worth much more than Shoppach this off-season. Either the Pirates are expecting a bounce back with the bat, are terrible at evaluating catchers, or there is reason to believe he Martin is a good defensive catcher or at least provides some value. I’ll let the reader decide when it comes to the Russell Martin contract. Nickeas on the other hand, is not even a replacement player and is not considered a good catcher. Shoppach was really below average in all 4 categories Klaassen outlines.

According to Subjectively Speaking, Kelly Shoppach is roughly average at “pitch framing” according to Pitch F/X data. This was one of the reasons the Tampa Bay Rays let Shoppach walk after the 2012 season and traded John Jaso. The Rays signed Jose Molina to replace them since data showed that Jaso was a poor pitch framer, costing the team runs, Shoppach was about average, and Jose Molina was the best in baseball. For the Mariners, shoppach is an improvement over both Jaso and Montero, but hasn’t been as good as Ronny Paulino over his career. Paulino has strangely gotten worse (one would expect skills like pitch blocking to regress a little, and maybe even the arm to fade a little, but you would expect his ability to influence balls or strikes to regress) and has been well below average the last two seasons.

Even if he isn’t particularly good, Shoppach obviously fits a need. The Mariners evidently plan on using Shoppach as a defensive replacement late in games with occasional starts. Coming in as a sub is rather routine for Shoppach, as he has done it in 101 games, roughly a 5th of his career, and he hasn’t been much worse offensively when doing so. They still seem intent and insistent on using Jesus Montero as the full time catcher. While I argued adamantly after the trade that the Mariners need to give Montero a serious shot at catcher since there is such a big difference in value between catcher and DH (and even first base), he showed last year that he is clearly costing the team back there. The numbers, the eye test, and the scouting reports all show that Montero is just not a very good defensive catcher. Perhaps there is some hope that he will get better, but I can’t think of a lot bad fielding catchers coming to the Majors and improving dramatically defensively (there may be some anecdotal evidence to the contrary, but they usually just get worse as they age or move off to the position completely). Also, the Mariners current roster construction doesn’t really allow them to use Montero as a DH and moving him to first, even if he was okay there defensively, won’t really help the team considering the 1st basemen they already have. Since it is a big league deal, once finalized, the Mariners will need to boot someone off the 40 man roster. Obviously all along I have been saying that the Mariners should DFA Carlos Peguero. It also becomes increasingly unclear where Jason Bay fits on this roster. Mike Carp is very unlikely to be DFA’d (I think they should trade him, They won’t get much, but he is out of options and there is no room for him on the roster. They might as well get some low ceiling high level prospect or medium ceiling very low level prospect for him), but probably won’t break camp with the team. For me, the Shoppach deal means Paulino starts the year in Tacoma (probably backing up Zunino) as they don’t really have room for 3 catchers (although with Montero on the roster, it isn’t a bad idea) and Shoppach may not be much better, he does have the MLB deal, which gives him the obvious advantage of making the team. This could all work itself out in several different ways. One possible way is Montero struggling mightily behind the plate and Zunino not being quite ready for the Majors most of the season (say he continues to struggle blocking balls), making Shoppach the main catcher for a lot of the season. Another way is Zunino being ready quickly and the team is way out of first place, meaning Shoppach gets shopped out.

 

Other Infielders on the Free Agent Market

kelly johnson

Here I will look at infielders that are not really the utility types that I looked out in my previous post. These are guys that can help the Mariners on the corners or possibly 2nd base.

In the off-season, I aggressively, and with full hindsight, foolishly ranked Kelly Johnson not only as the most underrated 2nd baseman in baseball, but also as the 7th best 2nd baseman in the MLB. Johnson went on to have a monstrously disappointing year, with a 86 wRC + and -.4 WAA. Depending on what defensive metric you look at, he may have also taken a step back in that regard (the two major defensive metrics disagree). At the plate, the discipline seems to still be there as he walked 10.7 % of the time in 2012, the same as his career norms, but his strikeouts jumped to basically an unacceptable rate. Over the last couple of years, he has been swinging more, especially at pitches out of the zone. He is also hitting more ground-balls, and as you would expect, his power numbers have dropped quite a bit. However, he is 30 years old, turning 31 years old before the start of next year. Normal aging curves would have Johnson obviously taking a step back from his prime, but perhaps not this much. It really makes me think that he has lost a lot of bat speed, as he was a good contact guys just 3 years ago, but is now swinging and missing at pitches at a rate similar to Mark Reynolds (unfortunately, that is not an exaggeration). However, he could be useful in a part time role and shouldn’t be that expensive considering the season he is coming off of.

I already wrote about Cesar Izturis in the utility player article, but his brother Maicer Izturis is sort of an intriguing infielder as well. He has played a lot of shortstop in the Majors, but most of his time has come either at 3rd base or 2nd base. He has been an okay hitter in his career, but struggled in 2012 with a 82 OPS +. His K/BB did regress, which is concerning, but he is also on the wrong side of 30, so it isn’t that surprising to see him drop off a bit. He is better against right-handed pitchers than left-handed pitchers. He is a good defender according to defensive metrics, but not elite like Cesar. He is a much better hitter though, and if he hits closer to his career norms, he can be a valuable middle infielder for the Mariners.

Lyle Overbay is an unlikely choice, but he still hits right-handed pitching reasonably well, something that Smoak struggled to do in 2012. For his career, Smoak has hit both sides about equally, but the split became pronounced in 2012. An Overbay signing would almost certainly lead to a trade of Mike Carp, and the Mariners may not see that as an upgrade (I think it is pretty obvious that Carp is a better player than Overbay at this point). The trading of Carp, which would make some sense, as he isn’t the future at 1st base, would potentially give the Mariners some players back that could help them, and it is not as if Overbay would cost much money (I can’t imagine him not getting a minor league contract). So you could potentially create some value there. The only problem is that Overbay has played below replacement level over the last two seasons. His numbers against right-handed pitching aren’t that spectacular, or even average. It really seems that his power has been sapped at age 35 (will be 36 by spring training).

Another platoon option at first base that might be better is Carlos Pena. Like Overbay, he shouldn’t face left-handed pitching but still hit right-handed pitching fairly well in 2012. In his career, he has hit righties really well, with a 131 wRC +, which is what Paul Konerko had for the White Sox this season. However, his year with the Rays did not turn out to be a very good one. He has always been a supreme power threat, with a monster 277.374 feet per batted batted ball. In 2012, the average batted ball distance dropped to 262.268, which is still solid, but an obvious regression. The ISO regression is even worse. He is 35 and he watched his strikeout rate jump to a crazy 30.3%. He actually isn’t chasing more balls out of the zone, he watched more pitches in the zone in 2012 than he usually does. The first assumption is always bat speed, but he has always swung and missed at about the rate he did in 2012 (which is a lot).

An optimist would just say “he will be cheap”. He still seems to be at least an adequate defender at first, known mainly for his ability to pick balls out of the dirt. Obviously he isn’t a good runner, but you don’t acquire a first baseman for their baserunning abilities.

A more inventive solution may be getting an outfielder who hits right-handed pitching well and moving him to first base. However, as we saw in the article I wrote on potential outfielders, lefty hitting outfielders are hard to find. The Mariners might bring in a couple of AAA slugger types to get a look like Clint Robinson (I believe he is a 6 year minor league free agent) or Dan Johnson (whom I wanted them to bring in last year). If they don’t seem to be fits for the Major League team, they could at least fill the voids left by Mike Wilson and Luis Jimenez in Tacoma (though Joe Dunigan might be able to do some of that) to give that lineup a little thump.

Let me make clear that in these posts I am not advocating that the Mariners sign these guys necessarily, I am just looking at some free agents and their strengths/weaknesses and where they might fit in on a Mariners roster. Alex Liddi is certainly in the mix here and would compete for a roster spot versus any free agent brought in. However, regular readers know that I am not a big fan of Liddi as a MLB player. Defensively, he doesn’t really fit anywhere besides 1st, and his bat doesn’t play there, or at least it hasn’t yet. Vinnie Catricala is perhaps a dark horse, but his value is tied up in his bat, and he didn’t hit in the PCL last year, and he hasn’t hit in the AFL so far (small sample obviously) this year. Stefen Romero could crack the big leagues by the end of the year and play 2nd or 1st if he hits in AAA. You may also need Dustin Ackley insurance unfortunately. I think he will hit better than he did in 2012, and I think his defense is valuable, but you have to cover yourself in all areas and for all situations. If nothing else, it is a long season, and teams with good depth are much more likely to succeed than ones that do not. The New York Yankees are a perfect example. They had major injuries to key players through out the year, but they were able to plug in those holes adequately with guys like Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez, and trading for guys like Ichiro. They had a great season, other than the ALCS (I think most Mariner fans would take the team being swept in the ALCS because it means that they had a good season). Before someone complains that they are able to do it because they are the Yankees and have a gigantic payroll, remember how cheaply they got Chavez and Ibanez and that they traded two non impact pitchers (relievers basically) for Ichiro to help the team. The Mariners can make these kind of depth moves.

Looking at the Potential September Call-Ups

SONY DSC

September is coming. This means that MLB active rosters will expand from 25-40. Of course, a team cannot bring up any 15 players in the minors that they want. They can only bring up players on the 40 man roster or replace players on the 40 man roster. Using my Mariners’ 40 man roster ranking that I created earlier this month (I am planning to update my rankings in January, then again in Spring Training) I will argue for whom I think should stay, be promoted, and be replaced.

1. Felix Hernandez (MLB): Stay

2. Danny Hultzen (AAA Tacoma): Basically shut down because of an innings limit. Hultzen wasn’t throwing strikes anyway, perhaps he could get some time in the Arizona Fall League, but I think an off-season of rest would be best.

3. Dustin Ackley (MLB): Stay

4. John Jaso (MLB): Stay

5. Charlie Furbush (MLB): Stay

6. Tom Wilhelmsen (MLB): Stay

7. Erasmo Ramirez (AAA Tacoma): A no brainer promotion, Erasmo is pitching reasonably well in Tacoma now after a successful stint in the Majors (both as a starter and a reliever). I would like to even see him get another start or two in the majors this year unless the Mariners are worried about his innings (which I don’t see why, as he threw more innings last year than he has so far this year). The only concern I could see is the minor elbow injury he suffered earlier in the year in his last MLB outing.

8. Kyle Seager (MLB): Stay

9. Jesus Montero (MLB): Stay

10. Brendan Ryan (MLB): Stay

11. Casper Wells (AAA Tacoma): Just demoted. Won’t be eligible to come back until the Tacoma season ends on September 3rd. Once this happens, he is another no brainer promotion.

12. Jason Vargas (MLB): Stay

13. Stephen Pryor (MLB): Stay

14. Michael Saunders (MLB): Stay

15. Carter Capps (MLB): Stay

16. Blake Beavan (MLB): Stay

17. Francisco Martinez (AA Jackson): With the injury problems he has had this year and the absolute silence of his bat, I see absolutely no reason to promote him. Just let his season end when Jackson’s season ends and get him some time in a Winter League this year.

18. Mike Carp (AAA Tacoma-Rehab): Reinstate him on September 1st.

19. Trayvon Robinson (MLB): Stay

20. Eric Thames (MLB): Stay

21. Johermyn Chavez (AA Jackson): No real reason to promote him. Still has to prove that he can do something with the bat.

22.Justin Smoak (MLB): Stay

23. Hector Noesi (AAA Tacoma): I would recall him back to the big leagues and use him as a reliever. No reason to not bring him back the the Majors, and there really isn’t room in the rotation.

24. Alex Liddi (AAA Tacoma): Other than an occasional home run, Liddi has not looked good in AAA. He still doesn’t lay off breaking pitches, and has no real defensive position or value. However, the Mariners might as well bring him back up to the Majors and get him 15-20 more plate appearances.

25. Oliver Perez (MLB): Stay

26. Franklin Gutierrez (MLB): Stay

27. Lucas Luetge (MLB): Stay

28. Shawn Kelley (AAA Tacoma): Very simple. Call him back up, he has been good in both Seattle and Tacoma.

29. Chance Ruffin (AAA Tacoma): Ruffin has not been good this year, but has been better as of late. There is no real need for another reliever, but I fail to see the reason for him to just go home when the Tacoma season ends. I don’t think it would be a bad idea to promote him and let him throw a few garbage time innings. We will at least get another look at him (selfishly, we would have more pitch f/x data on him).

30. Carlos Triunfel (AAA Tacoma): Like Ruffin, Triunfel is a borderline decision. He really hasn’t shown anything offensively to show that he deserves a MLB callup, and he is inferior defensively than the Mariners other choices. However, it might not hurt to give him a couple starts after the Tacoma season ends.

31. D.J. Mitchell (AAA Tacoma): I would really like to see him promoted and used as a reliever.

32. Yoervis Medina (AA Jackson): This is an interesting case. Medina throws hard, and has been an effective reliever for the AA club. He has a history of control issues, but has been pitching fantastic lately. I think I would give him a shot and let him throw 5-10 innings against big league hitting (and let him start the season in Tacoma next year).

33. Kevin Millwood (MLB): He was placed on waivers earlier this week. I keep thinking that Millwood will be traded, but we will see. If he is still one in September, obviously he will be with the MLB club and it will be disappointing.

34. Hisashi Iwakuma (MLB): Stay

35. Carlos Peguero (AAA Tacoma): I wouldn’t give him much playing time with the other young outfielders the Mariners have, but there really isn’t a reason for him to not be back with the big league club (unless they decided to be really aggressive and DFA him for another option. They may do that in the off-season anyway).

36. Josh Kinney (MLB): Stay

37. Mauricio Robles (AA Jackson): Too many walks. No reason to bring him up.

38. Miguel Olivo (MLB): Stay (Probably)

39. Munenori Kawasaki (MLB): Stay (Probably). You need a backup shortstop, so unless Triunfel is promoted (or Nick Franklin/Brad Miller is added to the 40 man and promoted), you really can’t get rid of him. He is better than Triunfel at this point, in my opinion, but he really has no future in the organization or the Majors in general. Triunfel might (probably not, but he is still young and has a much better chance than Kawasaki).

40. Chone Figgins (MLB): DFA

We have either 1-3 open 40 man roster spots. So who are possible candidates for being called up and placed on the 40 man roster?

Luis Jimenez: While he has played well enough to deserve a call-up to the Majors, he doesn’t really have a future, especially in the Mariners organization. Replacing Figgins with him wouldn’t be the dumbest thing in the world, but it will be hard to get him at-bats with Jaso and Montero getting most of the time at DH (and not being good defensive catchers).

Darren Ford: The big question for me is: Ford or Jimenez? Ford most likely will not provide value with the bat, but the raw speed is always intriguing (although his in game speed is actually not that great, as he gets caught stealing too much, and has just a 7.0 Speed Score in Tacoma. That is good, but not great.). You can possibly see Ford getting more playing time, but it maybe wise to pass on both him and Jimenez, as they are both veterans and will be free agents at the end of the year.

Mike Zunino: I probably wouldn’t add him to the 40 man roster. There just isn’t any reason to rush. Of course, he is tearing the minor leagues to pieces, but he was a really advanced college hitter, it would concern me if he wasn’t tearing up minor league pitching. My preferred course of action would be Zunino perhaps playing in the Arizona Fall League, spending spring training with the big league club, then starting the year in AAA Tacoma. The only way that I would DFA Olivo would be if I brought up Zunino.

Nick Franklin hasn’t hit very well in Tacoma. He is striking out too much, walking below average, but hitting for some power. I would rather not see him with the Mariners in September.

Stefen Romero doesn’t walk, but he doesn’t strikeout a whole lot either. He has torn both California and Southern League pitching apart, hitting much better than Franklin in AA. He provides less defensive value as he can’t play shortstop and the jury is out on whether he can play 2nd base. You would like to see Romero get his position set before he is brought up, but taking Figgins’ spot on the roster and getting a few starts at 1st would be interesting, even if not wise.

Brad Miller: It is not a big sample size, but Miller’s K/BB is awesome in Jackson. He is not slugging near as much there as Romero and Franklin have in Jackson, but he is more than holding his own offensively. Defensively, he plays the middle infield and a lot of scouts believe he will be able to handle short. He isn’t ready yet. I would promote Romero and Franklin over Miller.

Mike Wilson was actually on the 40 man roster in spring training before being designated for assignment (along with Chris Gimenez) for Shawn Camp and Hong-Chih Kuo (neither of whom made it out of Spring Training with the Mariners). While showing an occasional display of power in Tacoma, his overall statistics are are underwhelming. There is no reason to add him back to the 40 man, and he will walk in free agency this off-season (unless he just really loves Tacoma and wants to come back).

Bobby Lafromboise: There really isn’t any need for another reliever.

Danny Farquhar has basically the same problem as Lafromboise, except he is right-handed. You could make a good case that he should be on a big league roster, but he just doesn’t fit with the Mariners. It is a good problem to have. I still like him better than Mitchell, but roster situations are roster situations.

The Mariners Win Seven Straight

elite-daily-felix-hernandez-mariners

The Mariners have been playing encouraging baseball. Last Wednesday, King Felix threw a perfect game. This Tuesday, he had another good outing (2.18 FIP in 7.2 innings), although much different. John Jaso (151 wRC+ this year) did what we are used to seeing him do, hitting a big double. Jesus Montero also showed the power that scouts raved about before the trade but has been largely absent this year (90 wRC + this year).

This was the 7th straight win by the Mariners. They have now scored more runs than they have allowed and have a pythag of 62-62. They are playing their best baseball right now, but thinking about the wildcard at this point is silly. The Mariners are 7.5 games out of the wildcard and are last in the division at 12 games back. The Mariners are already as hot as they can possibly get. The winning streak may continue, but the Mariners aren’t going to go 30-8 for the rest of the year. The MLB season is full of ups and downs. Teams go through stretches where it appears that the team should be blown apart and all the pieces sold to the highest bidder. This is usually followed by mediocrity for extended stretches and some stretches where the team looks like a playoff teams. It is always dangerous to make narratives out of a small stretch of games.

It is all about managing expectations. Last night at Safeco, the stadium was more full than it usually is at just over 39,000 people (the Mariners are 11th out of 14 in attendance) and dressed in yellow. Even a terrible Coldplay song couldn’t ruin the moment. According to most of the players on Twitter (and Marketing Director Kevin Martinez) this was the best atmosphere they had seen Safeco. When King Felix quickly gave up a couple of hits, and the Indians pitcher Roberto Hernandez threatened to throw a no hitter, the good day look threatened. However, the Mariners were again beneficiaries of a King Felix outing, and strong bullpen work.

The next competing Mariners team will still be quite a bit different. As talked about in previous articles, the rotation will not be the same other than Felix and maybe Jason Vargas. The outfield needs improvement. Casper Wells and Michael Saunders are nice pieces, but hardly players that you build your outfield around. Franklin Gutierrez can’t stay healthy and we aren’t totally sure what Trayvon Robinson and Eric Thames are (I believe in the former and not the latter). In the free agent market, there aren’t a whole lot of options. Josh Hamilton will be the most expensive option available. Unless ownership has a sudden change of heart about spending money, there is no chance Hamilton becomes a Mariner. He is also on the wrong side of 30, has an extremely long history of injuries, and is inconsistent and overrated at the plate.

Nick Swisher is another option, but he is reportedly asking for 100 million. It is doubtful he will get that much money, but all it takes is one team.  The good thing about Swisher, other than the fact that he is better with the bat than any of the Mariners current outfielders, is that he is a possible 1st base solution. The Yankees have let him play some first base, even with Mark Teixeira’s huge contract. Eventually, he will probably have to play 1st base full time. He is a better option for the Mariners than Mike Carp (who can’t stay healthy anyway) and Justin Smoak. Should the Mariners sign Nick Swisher? I don’t know, but he should at least be talked about if they are willing to spend the money. If the Mariners are going to compete next year, they still need some position players. When the off-season gets here, we will talk more about potential free agents. Right now, it may be time to just reflect on some positive signs and progress for the Seattle ball-club.

What is Mike Carp?

Ichiro Suzuki, Mike Carp, Dioner Navarro

Mike Carp has now played 162 games. That is a full season. So we now have a full season worth of data on the 26 year old 1st Baseman/Corner outfielder. This age is desired as well, as he is basically at his peak and we cannot really say “he is young, he should improve”. So what do the numbers say about Carp? What kind of player do the Mariners have?

Perhaps the best way to measure Carp is to compare him to first baseman in 2011 (so we get a full season worth of data). As far as Fangraphs WAR goes, he is in between Freddie Freeman’s and Eric Hosmer’s 2011. They both hit more than he has, but they had terrible UZR ratings. If you don’t like defensive metrics (or just dislike UZR in particular), his 108 wRC+ is just below James Loney’s 2011 number. This was 6th worst out of qualified 1st baseman. So certainly Carp is a below average first baseman according to these metrics.

However, one should remember that he was the opening day left fielder. So how does Carp stack up against other corner outfielders (I specifically narrowed the search to left fielders)? Offensively, Carp was between Logan Morrison and Brett Gardner’s 2011 in wRC+ (for those unfamiliar with runs created, it is a formula that estimates runs based on OBP and SLG. wRC+ is an average like OPS + that compares the runs created number to league average and adjusts for ballpark). Carp’s number is better than 11 2011 corner outfielders. Carp’s fWAR (1.3) is the same as Alfonso Soriano’s 2011, and better than 9 qualified players. The thing you have to remember about Carp is that he is a terrible defensive outfielder. He has always had bad defensive ratings there and we all remember the goofy play on opening day. Which also brings up the injury risk. Eric Wedge was clear that the Mariners were going to use Carp at 1st base after he returned from his injury because they were afraid he would get hurt again. I actually like his defense at 1st. He seems to have the range and ability to play it pretty well.

So it seems Carp’s bat plays better in left field, but his defense is better at 1st. Plus, I wouldn’t bench Casper Wells for him, but I would bench Eric Thames for him (we could either assume that left field isn’t too much different than right field, although the arm is probably more important and Carp has a weak arm, or could just move Casper Wells to right).

So it appears that Carp is just a stopgap player. He is good enough that he isn’t a weak link or embarrassing, but you will always want to improve over him if he is a starter. He isn’t arbitration eligible until after the 2013 season and isn’t a free agent until after the 2016 season. So Carp could be a bench piece for the next competitive Mariners club.

 

Copyright © 2015. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.