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Ty Kelly Scouting Report

Kelly

The Mariners have acquired minor leaguer Ty Kelly from the Baltimore Orioles, trading away Eric Thames. Thames was designated for assignment when the team brought up Brad Miller earlier this week. Thames was hitting well in the PCL for Tacoma (about 25% better than league average), but injured his hand and was on the minor league DL. The Mariners originally traded for Thames last year in the ill-advised Steve Delabar trade at the deadline, and he was mediocre down the stretch for the team. His defensive and baserunning abilities were so deficient that the team brought up Carlos Peguero over him when they needed an extra outfielder in 2013, citing Peguero’s baserunning and defense (which are clearly poor). With the injury, and no real hope of being called up if he was healthy (as, there is no reason to believe that the Mariners wouldn’t just bring Peguero up again), there was no point in keeping him on the 40 man. Kelly will not be on the 40 man roster.

Kelly is a 24 year old switch hitter that was playing in Baltimore’s AA affiliate. His defense is considered “average” with a good arm (he has a negative FRAA this year, but he had positive FRAAs the last two seasons), and the Orioles had him playing mostly at 3rd base, with some 2nd base and a little corner outfield. He has rated as a below average runner each year according to speed score, with double digit steals in 2011, but just 4 in 2012 and 4 so far in 2013. Statistically, he is somewhat interesting offensively, as my odds system in the offseason had him at a 38 percent chance to be a good hitter in the Majors, the same as the Marlins Derek Dietrich. Kelly ranked 169 overall (once defense and fielding was added), just above former Mariner Daniel Carroll, and above Mike Olt (who was penalized by a probably wrong bad FRAA) and Zolio Almonte of the Yankees. He ranked below Denny Almonte to give a further comparison.

So far this year in 2013, he has walked more than he has struck out yet again. With an OBP over .380, Kelly clearly has on base skills, plate discipline, and at least so far, the ability to hit for average as well. However, he hits for really no power, which limits his value quite a bit, especially if he is a true corner player. There isn’t a lot of demand for corner players that aren’t plus fielders and don’t hit for power. If he has the high OBP like in the minors, there is room for him in the Majors, but basically his value banks on whether or not the plate discipline translates. So far it has in AA, but will it translate to AAA and the MLB? It is difficult to tell, but it is good that he is hitting for an a high average as well, meaning that he isn’t just taking pitches and taking advantage of wild minor league pitchers. He isn’t striking out, which also helps suggests this.

I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at his swing, and at least get an anecdotal look at how he is approaching pitches to see if that helps get a better grasp of Kelly’s chances of making the Majors. Watching a little bit of him on MiLB.TV, you can see one of the reasons he doesn’t hit for much power. He isn’t small, at least his listed height and weight isn’t, but he doesn’t look like a guy that has a lot of upper body strength (the weight he does have doesn’t appear to be good weight, basically, he doesn’t exactly look the part of professional athlete) He has a little bit of a hitch in his swing, and he also completely sacrifices his stance and body to go get pitches on the outside corner. This is another reason that he doesn’t hit for power, and makes his strikeout rate a little less impressive, since he seems so focused on making contact when not walking. Just in the small sample I saw, he did chase balls out of the zone and weakly hit balls

Maybe he can be Alex Liddi (who the Mariners also just DFA’d) without the contact problems, but without the power. The best plausible scenario would be for him to be a nice switch hitter off the bench that can play a few positions and get on base at a decent rate. I would say there is a pretty good chance of him playing for the Mariners at some time at the big league level, but there is a chance that the numbers don’t translate to AAA, he gets exposed a little bit for focusing on contact, and the club gets frustrated with his lack of power at power positions. Overall, I think it is a good player to get for someone that was injured and the Mariners clearly didn’t want anymore anyway. However, his “ceiling” (that is, what he can be if everything breaks right) is pretty low, and you are banking on basically one tool for him to be a contributor in the big leagues.

What Went Wrong: Jesus Montero’s 2013

Montero

Jesus Montero’s 2013 season has gone about as badly as it could have. Montero was sent down in part because of his defense, as the Mariners seem to be finally moving towards giving up on his ability to catch, as it is apparent (as it was to Baseball America years ago, who kept projecting him as a first baseman or a DH in Yankee prospect lists) that he doesn’t belong behind the plate. However, it is unlikely that he would have been sent down if he was hitting. He clearly wasn’t, and you don’t need advanced metrics or stats to tell you that things weren’t going well at the plate in 2013.

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When you look at just some of his peripherals, he looks okay, or at least, not that bad. A 2.7 HR %, reasonable K/BB % (you would rather have some more walks and more strikeouts honestly), the HR/FB % is a little low (which could just be luck at this sample size), not an overly high GB %, actually about half a percent lower than it was last year, and not many infield fly-balls. However, his overall power, outside of homers, was atrocious, as was his batting average on balls in play. Baseball Heat Maps batted ball distance suggests he wasn’t hitting the ball very far, suggesting he wasn’t hitting it very hard and was deserving the low BABIP. Here is his spray chart, courtesy of Texas Leaguers:

Jesus Montero's 2013

If I told you that Montero was a left-handed hitter and you ignored the infield, this spray chart would make a lot of sense. Most of his power comes on balls hit the other way. The scouting report was always that he had a lot of opposite field power, but he has a real absence of pull power, or at least this year, is not pulling many balls for extra bases. One would think, even if a player has really good opposite field power, that they would still have better pull power, unless they are just lacking in bat speed. Keeping this issue in mind, let’s take a look at his pitch data.

First, let’s look at his average locations, where pitchers are throwing it to him, along with his hits, outs etc.

Montero Average Strike Zone

While his hits are more inside than anything else, his runs scored plays (which include homers) are around the rest of the pitches, but a little higher than the average pitch. Nothing out of the ordinary really.

One of the things I found interesting about Montero as a minor leaguer was that he was a highly rated prospect, but he was an all-bat prospect, and he didn’t walk a lot or have great OBPs. I think patience in general has been somewhat of an issue for Montero, as generally he has contact skills, but it sometimes works against him, causing him to make some weak contact and make easy outs. Here are the pitches he swung at in the Majors this season:

Montero Swing Map

Honestly, this doesn’t look bad, rarely swinging at pitches above the strike zone. He has chased some really inside pitches, and a few low and away, but he is getting strikes and swinging at them. I don’t think those pitches that he chased in this chart are the reason he has struggled so far. His outside the zone swinging percentage is higher than league average, but it was actually better in 2013 and 2012.

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This spin and speed looks at only the pitches in play or whiffs, in an attempt to see what pitches he is struggling with:

Montero Spin and Speed

While strikeouts aren’t a real problem for Montero, his swinging strike percentage has gone up. As you can see, Montero was swinging and missing at quite a bit of breaking pitches, especially curveballs. He handled fastballs pretty well, but was not really seeing a whole lot of elite fastballs (weirdly his average fastball velocity seen has gone down each year in the Majors so far, a strange, and random, trend).

If strikeouts aren’t the problem, and we are trying to figure out where his power went, whether he is having problems with inside pitches, or whether he is just unlucky on balls in play, it makes sense to take a look at the pitches Montero has made outs on. Here are the release points and the strike zone locations for the outs for Montero so far in 2013:

Montero Release Points

Again, the vast majority of them are in the strike zone. A good number of them are inside, which explains all the groundouts to shortstop and 3rd base in the spray chart above. He doesn’t seem to be doing very well on pitches up and in the zone. As far as release points go, it is a little strange how many outs he has made on lefties that are low and out. Then again, we saw that many of his pitches he swung and missed at were high spin curves, which are curves usually thrown by lefties. Lefties that are far and out can just drop curveballs on him, and even if they are in the zone, he is either missing or turning them into outs.

There doesn’t seem to be a real easy answer such as “he should quit swinging at these kind of pitches” or “he doesn’t have big league power or bat speed”. Maybe it is just lack of athleticism, as there may be a lot of balls that would lead to getting on base that turn into outs just because he is so slow.  I don’t really believe that is a real answer, but the evidence points a lot to bat speed and guessing, which seem unlikely for a guy that was so heralded in the minor leagues, but then again, prospect gurus miss on guys all the time. Perhaps Montero’s offensive tools were overstated to begin with.

Hector Noesi as a Starter

Noesi

Aaron Harang was scratched with back stiffness on Thursday, meaning the Mariners had to turn to Hector Noesi to make a spot start against his old team, the Yankees, in the hitter friendly ballpark. Noesi surprised by pitching well in a Mariners win, giving up just an unearned run, with just 1 walk and 4 strikeouts in 4.1 innings. Reports are that he will be sent down to the minors and Danny Farquhar will be brought up (and evidently a 40 man move will accompany it), but it isn’t because he has pitched poorly, as he was successful in the bullpen before the start, despite pitching sparingly.

The first thing I noticed while looking at the data was that while his horizontal release point was basically the same (-2.97 as a reliever and -3.02 as a starter on Thursday), he released the ball higher on Thursday, in a more upright position by nearly a quarter of the foot (6 feet to 6.23 feet). This is a pretty drastic change, and one would think it would be for the better, as the general rule is that it is better to release the ball higher than lower (though his release point out of the bullpen was actually pretty similar to Michael Pineda and Blake Beavan).

Let’s see if Noesi’s stuff was any different. Here is his spin and speed chart as a reliever this year:

Hector Noesi as a Reliever

And here is Noesi as a starter against the Yankees on Thursday:

Hector Noesi as a Starter

It isn’t a surprise that he didn’t throw the fastball as a hard as a starter, but he still threw 10 pitches as a starter over 95 MPH (versus 23 out of 135 pitches as a reliever, or 17 percent). Velocity hasn’t really been a problem with Noesi anyway, at least for the most part, and he came with really good velocity on Thursday. I have always thought (at least from the time of the trade) that Noesi should be in the bullpen where his fastball can play up and his lack of consistent secondaries can be somewhat glossed over. However, as we see from the spin and speed chart (and the traditional pitch tags themselves), Noesi’s pitch selection doesn’t really change whether he is pitching in the bullpen or pitching as a starter (or, at least, his start on Thursday). It would be really convenient to say that this is the reason he can’t succeed in the rotation, but it is not like he is throwing just 2 pitches. Even out of the bullpen he is throwing four different pitches (five if you split the fastballs). So rather than looking at pitch selection, it may be better to look at pitch location, as I am very interested to see if his more upright delivery changed how he located his pitches. So I took his pitches using the MLBAM tags (though I combined the fastballs for ease) and created a strike zone chart that should show the average location of each pitch as a starter versus as a reliever so far in 2013.

Noesi Average Location

He clearly located his slider better as a starter than a reliever, locating it on the low and away corner from the right-handed batter, instead of the middle of the plate. He located his fastball higher on average, which with his velocity, is a good thing, giving him a chance to get high swing and misses. He hasn’t located his curveball well at all so far, and didn’t throw his changeup for a strike as a starter, but either way, has kept it low. The more upright delivery seems to have helped with the fastball and slider locations, and I think the Mariners would like to see him take that into relief, where he could have a lot of success if he just locates the fastball and the slider.

Getting anything at all from Noesi this season is a pleasant surprise for the team considering how bad he was last year, so the success he has had so far is welcomed. With his fastball velocity, he is going to keep getting chances, and the Mariners seem intent on continuing to give him chances in the rotation. Obviously it is cliche, but he has to show a bit better command of his secondaries and have either his changeup or his curveball emerge as an out pitch for him to have success in the rotation. Either way, Noesi being a MLB starter with any kind of success is more likely now than I think anyone would have said a couple of months ago.

A Deep Look at Aaron Harang and Meta-Narratives

Harang

The Mariners traded right-handed reliever Steven Hensley and some cash to acquire Aaron Harang from the Colorado Rockies. Harang is a 34 year old who has started 293 games in the Majors. He never actually pitched for the Rockies, as they traded for him from the Dodgers, but immediately designated for assignment.

From 2010-2012 (he hasn’t pitched yet this year) he had a -2.1 WAA, mainly because of an awful last season with the Reds. The Reds have a very hitter friendly ballpark and Harang really struggled with homers that year. I don’t have batted ball factors for the Reds park but Harang’s average batted ball given up was 264.88 feet in 2010. In 2011, in his bounce back year at Petco, his average batted ball given up was 259.814 and 262.135 in 2012 with the Dodgers. Maybe the ball carries more in Cincinnati, or maybe he just pitched better from 2011 to 2012. For what it is worth, and maybe not a whole lot, K/BB says he has not pitched better, getting worse actually (which one would expect from a 34 year old).

Of course, Pitch F/X can tell us a lot more about Harang than numbers can, especially the basic numbers. Since 2011, Harang has thrown 6305 pitches in Pitch F/X ballparks (when you count a few Spring Training outings). This is the data we will look at this post.

Let’s start by looking at Harang’s release point:

Aaron Harang

As you can see, that is a high release point. Here is Harang’s release point compared to other Mariners:

chart_2

He becomes the highest release point right-handed Mariner. This size gets him on top of the ball pretty well, giving him good plane, and should allow him to be a little more consistent and a body that limits injury. However, you will notice that the release point above is terribly inconsistent horizontally. I thought this just meant he had changed his spot on the rubber at sometime or changed his delivery, but this doesn’t seem to be the case as he has this difference from game to game. I then thought that maybe it had to do with platoon splits, as maybe he was one of those pitchers that moves on the rubber depending on what kind of hitter is up at the plate, but the data doesn’t seem to support that either. It also doesn’t seem to have to do with pitch type either, and he doesn’t have a high walk rate or a long recent injury history, so I think it means nothing honestly. I just wonder why he does it.

As far as pitches go, here is Harang’s Spin Graph, which I think helps us with pitch classification:

Harang Spin Graph

Of course, the first question that arises from the graph is why do some sliders and curves spin? And which are better? The majority of pitchers, though there are exceptions, do not have much spin on their curveballs or sliders.

I count 453 curves than spun less than 100 degrees and 73 curves that spun over 300 degrees. Here are where the non spin curves were located:

Non Spin Curve Locations

Here are where the spin curves were located:

spin curves locations

It is hard to see much of a difference there except non spin curves seemed to get low and away from righties more than then spin curves, while the well located spin curves were more likely to be just down and not down and away. Both pitches stay more arm side than glove side for Harang. As far as actual results go, just one of the spin curves have been turned into a run scoring play, while 6 of the pitches were swinging strikes. It is a smaller sample size, but compare this to the non-spin curves have a 24 to 7 ratio. So it seems that the spinning curves are actually better. The pitches get a little bit different movement as well:

Spin curves:

-2.26 overall

-3.58 vertical

-.93 horizontal

Non spin curves:

-.75 overall

-3.78 vertical

2.28 horizontal

So the non-spin curve gets a touch better vertical movement and much better horizontal movement, which would suggest that this is the better pitch and the results are mainly just noise. I wanted to see if he throws the different curves on purpose, if there was a specific count he threw them in. He throws the non spin curves with an average of .8 strikes in the count and the spin curves with .75 strikes in the count for the non-spin curves, which is completely unhelpful. It didn’t appear that this was a Pitch F/X error, as he threw both pitches in multiple parks. The spin curves are thrown at an average 74.96 MPH, while the average non-spin curve was thrown at 74.99 MPH, so it has nothing to do with speed. On average, his non-spin curve was released very slightly lower and a little bit closer to his body than his spinning curve. While it might be a reach, this may be where the different movement and spin comes from.

We have already talked too much about the curveball, especially since he throws his just 8.88% of the time. Harang throws a lot of (36.1 percent of the time) what is classified as moving fastballs at an average of 90.09 MPH. His 4-seamer averages just barely higher, at 90.27 MPH. He throws some kind of fastball 63.4 percent of the time. For comparison, here is a graph of how Harang’s fastballs compare to the Mariners’ rotation’s fastballs. I used Harang’s data versus each of the Mariners’ starters last start (For Felix I used Brooks Baseball’s classifications because MLBAM has confused his fastball and changeup).

chart_1(6)

As you can see, the Mariners’ (22nd in starting pitcher fastball velocity) don’t have a hard throwing staff and Harang fits right in there. His fastball doesn’t get much horizontal movement comparatively, but gets good vertical movement. He also uses his fastballs more than everyone in the rotation other than Saunders’ in his last start. While his fastball is not as bad as Saunders’, one wonders why Harang uses his fastball so much when it seems to be a tick below average once you consider handness, velocity, and movement. Like most pitchers, Harang also throws a slider and a changeup.

Harang’s slider averages 82.48 MPH, in the bottom 30 percent of right-handed starter sliders. It is a pitch he can throw for a strike though, almost 68 % of the time (which would actually seem too high). It also isn’t as effective as the curve, even though he throws it more, as 40 of them (in our sample that we have been looking at) have been hit for runs versus 207 whiffs.

Harang’s change is even less effective. He throws it for strikes just 53 percent of the time, with 6 hit for runs and 18 for swings and misses. It is not a big part of his pitch selection, throwing it just 5.6 percent of the time. He also doesn’t throw it very hard, at 82.6 MPH on average, indistinguishable from the slider velocity wise.

If one were talking about Harang as a pitching prospect, we would note that he has no plus pitches. His fastball is below average and he doesn’t have a big swing and miss pitch. Because of this, he doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts and usually struggles with home runs (as evidenced by the poor end to his Reds career). One quickly asks if Harang is an upgrade from Jon Garland, who the Mariners let walk in spring training to allow Blake Beavan and Brandon Maurer to round out the rotation. It is perhaps convenient that the Mariners got Harang from the Rockies, who signed Garland after he left the Mariners. The Rockies traded for Harang, but had no interest in placing him in the rotation over Garland. The Mariners let Garland walk for free, because they didn’t want to commit him to the rotation, but here we are less than two weeks into the season, one home series into the season, and the Mariners trade for a pitcher that the Rockies clearly think is worse than Garland. Note, we must make some qualifiers. When looking at the Rockies, every move they make has to be interpreted in the context of Coors Field and the crazy Park Factors that come with playing in Colorado. The Rockies may not be saying that Garland is better than Harang in a vacuum, but perhaps that Garland is a better fit than Harang in the ballpark. While Garland doesn’t “miss bats”, the groundball rate certainly points to this being the case. Also, we have to take in account the Rockies front office. The front office is in a weird state of flux right now, with Dan O’Dowd not the GM and basically still the GM at the same time. Also, and this is a meta-narrative, the Rockies off-season before the 2012 was pretty historically poor. The team made a laundry list of mistakes, trading for a bunch of mediocre fly-ball pitchers and watching those pitchers go down in a ball of flames, their lineup suffer from losing those traded hitters, and eventually going to a terrible pitching plan. After losing over 90 games, the team then traded for a veteran reliever, giving up a young starter and a minor leaguer. Even if the Rockies’ front office came out and said that even in a vacuum, Garland is better than Harang, we would have no reason to believe that they are right. They have been wrong quite a bit. The acquisition of Harang in the first place happened because they thought that signing Ramon Hernandez and starting Wilin Rosario would be a good plan at catcher and make Chris Iannetta expendable. They traded Iannetta for Tyler Chatwood, who has been awful as a Rockie, while Rosario proved to be some kind of poor man’s Jesus Montero, some raw power, but no on base skills, and unable to really play catcher defensively. Ramon Hernandez proved to be old and ineffective as a backup and Yorvit Torrealba, a catcher that played for 3 different teams last year, was a better option as a MiLB deal. Also, the Hernandez-Harang trade, and flipping Harang to to the Mariners, saved the Rockies 2.5 million dollars. If they started Harang over Garland, they don’t save that money. So I don’t think that we should read too much into the Rockies choosing Garland over Harang. That doesn’t mean the Mariners didn’t make a mistake.

Luckily for the Mariners front office, it wasn’t a big mistake, especially if Harang could just outperform Beavan. Steven Hensley is not much a loss. He is 26 and had no path to the big leagues with the Mariners. In fact, the Rockies sent him to AA. He has a below average right-handed fastball out of the bullpen without a real plus breaking ball (relying mainly on the slider).

Ranking the Mariners 40 man roster in Spring Training

felix hernandez perfect game

With Spring Training coming to an end in a little more than a week, the Mariners face some roster choices, especially when it comes to veteran minor league free agents and the 25 man roster. Of course, to add anyone to the 25 man roster from a minor league free agent, they have to be added to the 40 man roster. Since last time (December), the Mariners have removed or traded John Jaso (#5), Jason Vargas (#19), Mike Carp (#20), Shawn Kelley (#27) and D.J. Mitchell (#36). They have added Michael Morse, Kelly Shoppach, Kendrys Morales, Raul Ibanez, and Joe Saunders. So this is the latest ranking of the 40 man roster, which is my ranking of the value of the players on the 40 man based on my interpretation of their statistics and advanced data, the eye test in watching them (both last season and in spring training), and takes into account their contract, especially team control.

1. Felix Hernandez: The King finally got his extension, and remains in first as the ace of the staff and clearly the best player on the team.

king felix

2. Erasmo Ramirez: There have been some that have expressed thought that Erasmo may not make the rotation this year, which seems a little silly to me. A lot of team control, throws hard, and has solid control and a good changeup. A lot to like from Erasmo, and he is ranked higher than Hultzen and Maurer because he has shown he can pitch at the big league level, and considering the vast gulf between AAA and MLB, this accounts for something.

3. Kyle Seager: The club’s best hitter last year, he isn’t a free agent until 2018. The team’s starting 3rd baseman could use a more well rounded game as his speed and defense come up about average, and his OBP and patience isn’t great, but he is clearly the best young hitter on the 40 man, and I think the front office would be thrilled if Brad Miller and Nick Franklin were doing Kyle Seager things within the next couple of years.

4. Danny Hultzen; The reports from his latest minor league outing is very encouraging, as his velocity was fine (which hasn’t been bad, even last year) and he was commanding two pitches. With the back of the Mariners’ rotation having a lot of question marks, the Mariners would really like for him to not have the command issues he had in AAA Tacoma last year, and he should appear in the big leagues sometime in 2013.

5. Brandon Maurer: A guy that still has a shot of making the club as the 5th starter, Maurer’s velocity and Pitch F/X data shoots him up higher for me. You could argue that he should be above Hultzen, especially because of the velocity.

6. Dustin Ackley: Still the starting 2nd baseman, and still not a free agent until 2018, the Mariners would obviously like to see Ackley hit a little more than he did last year, but the speed and defense at least makes him a starter.

7. Michael Saunders: Even with his break out year last year, he will still probably have some playing time lost thanks to the Mariners’ additions to the outfield. If he hits like he did last year, he should play every day.

8. Charlie Furbush: Some very capable left-handed relievers are rated low on this 40 man ranking thanks to Charlie Furbush. While he certainly failed as a starter, he provides long term value as a left-handed reliever.

9. Tom Wilhelmsen: An interesting possible trade asset as the season wears on and competitors look for back of the bullpen pieces, Wilhelmsen brings a great looking curve along with a plus plus fastball and lots of team control

10. Jesus Montero: This is a big season for Montero, not because of the bat value, but because of the defensive value. This is probably his last stand to be a serious catcher, and the Mariners are going to give him every opportunity, pencilling him in as the starting catcher. If Smoak struggles and Mike Zunino comes up to the big leagues as expected in 2013, he could see a pretty permanent move to DH if he struggles early on behind the plate.

11. Carter Capps: You could argue that he should be higher than the 3rd best reliever thanks just to his fastball and hard curveball. The only reason he isn’t higher than Furbush and Wilhelmsen is because the two have had a longer track record of succeeding in the majors.

12. Kendrys Morales: The Mariners’ return for Jason Vargas is a one year player, but he is rather cheap offensive production. One wonders what his health will be like or how well he will move around (and whether he will be able to play defense, making my ranking a little aggressive), but he can hit, there isn’t much question about that. It will often look ugly, and he isn’t always patience, but he can hit for some real power.

13. Hisashi Iwakuma: A lock for the rotation, it is interesting to note how little we have heard about Iwakuma. He isn’t a star, but he is definitely a starter, so he is sort of boring as far as spring training storylines go. Considering the questions in the rest of the Mariners rotation beyond the first 3 pitchers, this is a good thing.

14. Brendan Ryan: The defensive wizard’s future with the Mariners depends on Nick Franklin and Brad Miller, especially how the two perform in 2013. If they both look like big league players, especially if they look like they can start, and as long as Ackley doesn’t look hopelessly lost, there is no real room for Ryan. There is still a possibility, say if Miller or Franklin struggle, that Ryan could be the 2014 Mariners shortstop with a new deal, but he may be trade bait around the deadline

15. Stephen Pryor: This hard thrower needs to work on his command a little more, but he is going to get a lot of big league hitters out in the future and is a nice back of the bullpen piece (which is why it may make some sense to trade a guy like Wilhelmsen).

16. Joe Saunders: My favorite move of the offseason for the Mariners was probably the Jason Vargas/Kendrys Morales trade followed by the signing of Saunders. Much has been made of the similarities between Saunders and Vargas, but Saunders has had success in hitter parks, and throws a little harder. So for only a couple million more, the Mariners got a better pitcher and a slugging 1st base/DH.

17. Michael Morse: Unfortunately, it looks like the Mariners are going to be playing him in the outfield. This hurts his value because he just isn’t very good out there. However, the Mariners constructed their roster in a very weird way this off-season, and there isn’t another place for him to go. He is a one year rental, but if he can hit a little better than 2012, but not even necessarily as good as he did in 2011, he will provide some value.

18. Julio Morban: We saw with the Pitch F/X data in spring training that he still has a little way to go as far as being an advanced hitter, but he certainly held his own. Health is the big question for him and why he isn’t a better prospect.

19. Anthony Fernandez: A sort of interesting left-handed starting prospect, he is still at least a year away, and we didn’t see a plus pitch in the Pitch F/X data. There is still some back end of the rotation projection there, along with options and control, but he isn’t a huge prospect.

20. Carlos Triunfel: A possible utility, 25th man player, it doesn’t look the Mariners are interested in starting him in the big leagues. Doesn’t have the in game tools that originally was sold as the Triunfel package, but he has progressed defensively over the years, and if one is imaginative, you could project him to hit enough to be a reserve MLBer.

21. Franklin Gutierrez: Health, OBP, and team control all bring down Gutierrez’ rating, but he plays a really good centerfield, which the team really needs with the plethora of corner outfielders the team has currently.

22. Casper Wells: He can play a little center, but has been mostly a corner player. The Mariners don’t seem to be extremely thrilled with Wells, and he is out of options, and rumors that he may not make the team, and be placed on waivers, which I would find surprising. He can still be a really nice 4th outfielder and is more rounded player than guys like Morse or Ibanez.

23. Justin Smoak: It is hard to know what to make of Smoak. He definitely looks better, especially with the bat speed on the left side. However, we have a track record of big time failure at the big league level. They have insurance, with Morales being able to move to first if Smoak struggles, but the Mariners are still giving him chances.

24. Francisco Martinez: The move to centerfield is interesting (though he is still listed as an infielder on the official roster), but I don’t know how much it changes his value, especially because the eye test and the data seemed to show that he was at least a decent defender at 3rd. At the end of the day, he is either going to hit and make the Majors, or not hit and not make the Majors.

25. Kelly Shoppach: Shoppach plays an interesting role on this team, as he is the only real defensive catcher on the 40 man roster. The season could break several ways for Shoppach, such as Montero playing adequately at catcher and Zunino coming up, meaning the Mariners get rid of Shoppach, or Shoppach could eventually take over the starting catcher job with just an injury or Zunino and Montero struggling.

26. Blake Beavan: Still in the running for a rotation job, Beavan still has team control, but he isn’t a very good pitcher, really struggling to miss bats or get grounders.

27. Oliver Perez: Reports are that scouts really liked what they saw from Perez in the WBC, and that is the Perez we saw last year, as he brought a big time fastball from the left side.

28. Raul Ibanez: The veteran doesn’t run well or play defense, but he is a platoon player that fit the Mariners need a little bit. My concern is that he will play in the field too much, which would wipe away the value his bat has. Obviously a fill in player, not part of the team’s future plans, and not really a “full time player” either, so that is why his ranking is so low.

29. Lucas Luetge: A reasonably successful LOOGY in 2012, Luetge may not make the team in 2013. He has minor league options, and with Furbush and Perez, he may not be needed to start the year, but he has showed that he can pitch in the Majors in a specialist role.

30. Robert Andino: He looks like the utility guy this year, and is certainly an upgrade from what they had last year. He has made some really nice defensive plays at a couple different positions just from what I have seen this spring training, and he will need to keep doing that to provide value this year.

31. Hector Noesi: Noesi has been an absolute tire fire as a Mariner, but the fastball is still there. Hopefully a bullpen piece in Tacoma, he can still be a guy that can help the Mariners in the future.

32. Vinnie Catricala: A corner player, Catricala really has to improve at Tacoma this year with the bat. The bat will determine whether or not he will be a big league player or not. That is always scary to me, especially for a guy who has mixed results.

33. Bobby Lafromboise: An older (for a prospect) left-handed specialist, he has a skill set that fits on a MLB roster, with some value (see the Randy Choate contract for a guy way past his prime), but not a lot of room on the Mariners roster with the above lefties. I can see why they added him to the 40 man roster, since he would make sense as a rule 5 draft pick for somebody (much like Luetge last year), but he doesn’t have a role on this team without a lot of injuries.

34. Eric Thames: He wasn’t given a real shot to make the team, which makes sense, since his skill set is very similar to Raul Ibanez’. Unless he really struggles or is really awesome in Tacoma this year, it is probably 2014 or bust for Thames with Morse and Ibanez likely gone in that time.

35. Josh Kinney: An injury definitely hurts his value and opens the door for another pitcher in the crowded Mariners’ bullpen. We will see how serious it is, but as an older pitcher that throws a lot sliders, it is concerning.

36. Chance Ruffin: As I wrote about recently, Ruffin has lost his velocity, and since his command isn’t sharp, really all value. After another disappointing spring, he will try to find his velocity in AAA again, but even with another option, he may not stay on the 40 man roster all year.

37. Yoervis Medina: A hard thrower without a ton of command, he is an interesting depth piece, but the bullpen is the Mariners strong point. Has more value elsewhere than he does in Seattle. I wonder if someone would be interested in a trade for Medina, and give the Mariners a couple low level high risk flyer players in return.

38. Alex Liddi: A corner player that hasn’t seen the bat develop the way he needed it to, Liddi doesn’t really have a spot on the team (especially with guys like Catricala ahead of him on the list), and probably isn’t much more than a replacement player, which is what he has been so far.

39. Jason Bay: I still don’t believe that he has fully turned the corner, and the Mariners have better outfielders than him, even if his bat has improved some.

40. Carlos Peguero: The king of spring training, Peguero received some early buzz in February, but has been optioned since.

Depending on how serious the team views the Kinney injury, the team could put him on the 60 day DL, which would open up one roster spot. They are going to lose either Casper Wells or Bay it seems, as that is just how the contacts and roster works. My guess would be that they let go of Bay (at least that is what I would do), but either way, that is another roster spot open. I have argued that Peguero should have been designated early in the off-season, so there is three. Also, since, as mentioned above, Liddi and Medina are sort of redundant, to younger pieces higher on the depth chart, the Mariners could let them go without losing any sleep. So I could 5 roster spots that could be open for guys like Garland, Loe, or others. They probably won’t need 5, but the room is there if needed. Next, I will look at my preferred 25 man roster, before looking at the ideal rotation and lineups for the 2013 Mariners.

A Chance Ruffin Obituary?

San Diego Padres v Seattle Mariners

The Mariners optioned Chance Ruffin to AAA earlier this week, sending him to minor league camp. I believe this was Ruffin’s 2nd option (year, he can be optioned and called up as many times as necessarily this year, meaning the third and last option would come next year) , as he originally had his contract purchased by the Tigers in 2011, and when the Mariners optioned him to begin the season in 2012, that was his first option (again, that is what I think, tracking options is still difficult, even with the amount of information available on the internet). Ruffin was originally drafted by the Tigers in 2010 in the supplemental round out of the University of Texas. He signed for 1.15 million dollars, and then was acquired by the Mariners as the player to be named in the Doug Fister deal. After a disappointing spring, Ruffin was optioned to Tacoma, where he struggled, especially in the first half of the season. He wasn’t even brought up the Majors in September, even though he was on the 40 man roster. In my most recent ranking of the Mariners 40 man roster (I should do another one soon), I ranked him 31st, below both Mike Carp and Shawn Kelley, who were both DFA’d, then traded.

For Ruffin to be sent to minor league camp with 3 weeks until opening day seems like a pretty big deal. While I don’t think there was much reason for anyone to think he would make the team out of spring training, this early of an assignment and option seems to suggest that he had absolutely no shot of making the team. This has caused some, at least this is the impression I am getting from the Mariners’ blogosphere as a whole, to basically throw in the towel on Ruffin and no longer expect him to be a MLB contributor going forward. Here, I wanted to see if we could see what went wrong with Ruffin, at least so far, using Pitch F/X data and see if there is a chance for him to become the pitcher that it was once hoped he would be.

First, how about a little bit of a draft scouting report to give us some idea of how Ruffin looked coming out of Texas in 2010 (from Perfect Game’s David Rawnsley):

He has also gained some velocity on his fastball pitching out of the bullpen, and now throws from 90-94 mph…Nothing that Ruffin throws is straight, and he has a very advanced feel for movement and placing pitches for a pitcher his age. Despite his increased velocity, Ruffin is still primarily a breaking-ball pitcher, much like Street was with his unhittable slider. Ruffin’s feel for pitching is most evident in the way he can blend a low-70s curve into an upper-70s slider, with a deep slurve-type break depending on what look he wants to give the hitter

Ruffin, as said before, broke into the Majors in 2011 with the Tigers before being part of the trade. His fastball velocity was better than what had been advertised the year before, as his fastball averaged 94.18 MPH in his 2011 outings with the Tigers and then the Mariners. He threw 5 different pitches if you count the sinker, but threw mainly the slider (82.82 MPH) and the 4-seamer, with sinker, curves, and changes making up just 10 % of his repertoire. His fastball had below average vertical movement, but about average horizontal movement. While his slider had below average velocity, it had above average horizontal movement, and broke vertically like a curveball (though obviously he had a separate curveball that broke more like a curve and as we saw in the scouting report, it was slurvy). So you had a young reliever with above average fastball velocity, and the ability to touch 96 MPH. Command was somewhat of a question, but he had a breaking ball that looked like it could get MLB hitters out. Marc Hulet of FanGraphs wrote going into the 2012 season:

He probably needs a little more polish and might benefit from some more time in triple-A before settling in as a high leverage reliever at the big league level

He did go to AAA, but as we know, he hasn’t settled in as a high leverage reliever. Instead, he struck out 16.7 % of batters in AAA, with a FIP of 4.76 and stayed in the minors the whole time. Both Steamer and ZIPs now project him to be a below replacement reliever in 2012. What happened? While it is tough to see why, if his 3 Pitch F/X spring training outings in 2012 are any indication, he lost his velocity, and not just a little bit of velocity. In 2012, his fastball velocity dropped to 91.7 MPH, well below average for a MLB reliever. His slider didn’t see a change in velocity, but regressed badly in movement, and his sinker dropped under 91 MPH. It hasn’t come back either. Although his slider was actually harder than it ever has been before, so far in 2013, his fastball has dipped to 91.38 MPH, and his sinker has fallen below 90 MPH.

Since Ruffin hasn’t missed any time with injury, I figured it might be helpful to look at his delivery. The best way to do this is usually to look at release point data.

Here is his release point data from 2011 via FanGraphs

chart(1)

Yes, there are some inconsistencies. He didn’t release the ball very high, and wasn’t exceptionally out or close to his body. Of course, we mainly want to see how it compares.

I pulled his outing with the most pitches in 2012 and then the outing with the most pitches in 2013, and looked at the release points to see if we could find a difference (2012 on the left, 2013 on the right):

2012 ruffin chance ruffin 2013

The 2012 chart is a disaster. Obviously, it is horribly inconsistent, and he released a good amount of his pitches below the threshold he usually throws and he released quite a bit of pitches below 5 feet like he was a sidearmer. In 2013, it isn’t as bad, and he released the ball over 5 feet almost every time, but he was still pretty inconsistent.

It isn’t quite clear why, but Ruffin is clearly not the same guy the Mariners traded for. Whether he finds his delivery or his velocity again is to be seen, and because of the options situation (and I believe they can still outright him off the 40 man roster, though I may be wrong) he will be given time. However, he will spend that time in Tacoma until it is fixed. Even with the Kinney injury, the Mariners’ don’t really need bullpen help. It may not be time to write the obituary on his Mariner career quite yet, but the chances of Chance (pun painfully unintended) Ruffin helping the Mariners, or even being a big league pitcher going forward are not good.

I Still Don’t Get Voros McCracken’s Critique of the Mariners

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Voros McCracken is one of the most influential sabermetricians, mainly because of his “DIPs Theory”. DIPs Theory radically changed the way pitchers were evaluating in a way that wasn’t matched until the availability of Pitch F/X. McCracken is a guy I don’t disagree with often. With that said, I still don’t get Voros McCracken’s interpretation of the Mariners, and their front office approach. McCracken recently spoke at the Sloan Analytic Conference, and said something weird that I just don’t get. I have been thinking about this for several days and am still trying to understand whether or not I am missing something, whether contextually (I wasn’t at the conference) or otherwise, because this is so baffling wrong. Here, I will try to deconstruct what he said, and I think you will see with me that what he said was too simplistic and a misunderstanding of intent.

Here is the whole relevant quote via FanGraphs:

Just because everyone knows OBP is important doesn’t mean OBP isn’t important. Just because we learned something a long time ago doesn’t mean we should unlearn it. We should keep it and add to it. There are a lot of people who are itching to do the next new thing. That’s great, it’s just that mindset can cause you to forget some of the basics.

Not to pint (sic) fingers at any team, but to a certain extent the Mariners did that. They got so wrapped up in talking advantage of fielding statistics that they forgot they should have a first baseman with an on-base percentage over .280. Maybe that’s unfair. If they were here, they may interrupt me and say no, that’s not the way it happened. But my perception is that sometimes you can forget about the basics when you’re pursuing something new

Of course the Mariners have been focused on defense (before this off-season), but I don’t think it was so much so that they ignored other factors of the game, which seems to be what McCracken was saying. First, let’s look at his main point, the Mariners’ low OBP totals at 1st base. In 2012, their 1st base OBP was .296, the second lowest in the Majors (not adjusting for park). In 2011, the Mariners first baseman had a .308 OBP, 26th in baseball. So while it wasn’t as bad as McCracken made it out to be, but the point stands, the Mariners’ first basemen have not done a good job of getting on base (not adjusted for park). However, that wasn’t McCracken’s main point. His main point comes in the 2nd sentence of the 2nd paragraph above, in which he seems to believe that the Mariners’ first baseman’s OBP has been so bad because they haven’t worried about OBP, and instead have cared only about defense. Just from a common sense standpoint, this doesn’t make a lot of sense, but let’s look at some evidence, particularly, the players they have been using at first base.

Over the last two and a half years, the Mariners’ main 1st baseman has been Justin Smoak, who they acquired from the Rangers in the famous Cliff Lee deal. Here is Kevin Goldstein’s (writer for Baseball Prospectus at that time, now working for the Astros) scouting report from before the 2010 season, when he was still with the Rangers:

Smoak projects as a middle-of-the-order run producer who can score and drive in 100 runs annually. He has the best plate discipline in the organization, and among the best in baseball, with plus raw power from both sides. He has good instincts for the game and is a solid to plus defender at first.

smoak defense

It just didn’t work out, as every Mariner fan knows. Maybe the Mariners misevaluated him (along with a lot of scouts), maybe it was the ballpark, maybe it was just one of those things. Prospects don’t always work out. That doesn’t mean that the Mariners didn’t care about 1st base offense. They didn’t acquire Smoak because he was a plus defender but bad hitter because they were so focused on defense and not on offense. He might have been viewed as a good defender (defensive metrics have him as mediocre in the Majors), but the big thing was his bat.

How about some of the Mariners’ Backup first baseman over the past few years, do these acquisitions imply that the Mariners’ have been so focused on the defensive statistics that they haven’t cared about OBP from first baseman.

Casey Kotchman: You could argue that this was a defensive signing, and boy he did not hit.

Russell Branyan: Yeah, this was not for defense.

Mike Carp: Carp was a failed corner outfielder, but was solid defensively when he did play 1st. He wasn’t bad offensively, but he wasn’t good either. The Mariners were so in love with him, that they DFA’d him, and gave him up for cash.

Not a lot of options above, but nothing that screams “defense over OBP”. Let’s look at some of the Mariners moves over the past two or three years to see if we see this theme:

The Brendan Ryan for Maikel Cleto trade has been a coup, especially since they drafted other hard throwers in Stephen Pryor and Carter Capps who have already got to the Majors. The bullpen has not been the problem. Ryan is obviously a low OBP, high defensive value player, but I think some of the other moves below show that this was somewhat of an outlier.

Chone Figgins was an offensive signing (the speed was obviously attractive too). It just didn’t work out.

The Ichiro extension was inked not only because of the fanfare and legend surrounding Ichiro, but the speed/defense/and offense (!) combination is why he provided value on the field. His hitting regressed, making him more of a speed and defense player, but that wasn’t because that is what the front office wanted. They didn’t tell him to stop hitting.

Dustin Ackley was basically just a defensive player last year, but remember, there were a lot of questions about his 2nd base defense when he was brought up. He was an offensive player, he just was bad at the plate last year.

The Mariners brought in Jack Cust in 2011. That isn’t a defensive move, that was a move that attempted to boost the offense, as was the Ryan Langerhans signing. They didn’t work out because they are both AAAA hitters. They are bad defenders, signed because it was believed they had a chance of hitting.

It is one thing to say: “The Mariners first baseman, especially Justin Smoak, can’t and haven’t hit”. It is another to say that: “This was on purpose”. The first thing is right. The second is wrong. Of course the Mariners would interrupt McCracken and say he was wrong.  The first baseman not hitting, or the hitting in general struggling, was not by design, no more than the Indians intentionally traded for a terrible pitcher in Ubaldo Jimenez. If you want to say “look, they made bad moves here”, critique how they have done things, point to things, even in hindsight, that showed where we should have known Smoak would fail and Jimenez would regress so poorly. You can say “they are bad at evaluating talent”, but you can’t say “the Mariners don’t care about 1st base offense or OBP” or “the Indians don’t care about starting pitching”.

I am the last person that wants to defend the Mariners’ front office. I don’t have a lot of rooting interest in this team, so I don’t want to needlessly pile on the front office (as a negative Mariner fan might), or defend the front office (as a positive Mariner fan might). The front office has made their mistakes, and I have been especially critical of this off-season. If you want to be critical of the Mariners for ignoring OBP, the 2013 off-season would be the off-season to critique. They traded John Jaso, who would take a step back just based on general regression to the mean, who was an OBP king in 2012 for Michael Morse, a guy that doesn’t walk a lot but hits for power. My favorite move of the off-season was when they traded Jason Vargas (and replaced him with Joe Saunders) for Kendrys Morales. However Morales is a guy who really struggled with plate discipline in 2012, and had a .320 OBP. The Mariners also signed Raul Ibanez, a player that has regularly had a OBP under .300 over the past few years. Not only did the Mariners sacrifice defense this off-season, they sacrificed some OBP as well.

This post is somewhat outside of what I usually write about. I much prefer just doing player evaluations, or analyzing transactions. I don’t like meta-narrative posts, because meta-narrative posts, especially when contained in 1500 word posts, are usually wrong. Meta-narratives contained in two paragraphs are even more likely to be wrong. Geography prevents me from going to these kind of analytic conferences, but my guess is that really simplistic meta-narratives that can be shown to be wrong so easily and quickly are probably not big parts of them. I want to be fair to McCracken, so if I am missing any context let me know, but if he is saying that the Mariners’ have been bad at offense, particularly at 1st base (again, as Brendan Ryan shows, they are intentionally bad at offense at shortstop, but not at any other position) because they have cared too much about defensive value, then he is just wrong.

The Real Justin Upton Trade

upton

On Thursday, the Atlanta Braves traded for Chris Johnson and Justin Upton from the Arizona Diamondbacks, who received Martin Prado, Zeke Spruill, Randall Delgado, Nick Ahmed, and Brandon Drury.  It seemed like the mass reaction to the real Upton trade is that the Diamondbacks were somewhat fleeced, or did not get enough back from the Braves. Just looking at the names, it seems pretty clear that the Braves did not give up as much as the Mariners were going to give up for Upton.

Dan Symborski did post the ZIPs projections on all the players in the trade (except Drury) and has Atlanta getting 3.6 WAR for 2012, while the Diamondbacks get 5.7 WAR for 2012 in the trade, if you assume that Delgado and Spruill get around 140 innings each and Nick Ahmed playing everyday. It is doubtful that Delgado and Spruill will get a combined 280 innings, and Nick Ahmed has never even played in AA, making it doubtful he will even reach the Majors in 2013. ZIPs also has some serious problems when it comes to projecting rookie pitchers as well. With these qualifications aside, it still seems like it is hard to argue that the Diamondbacks were absolutely robbed in the trade. So we will break the trade down the trade by player, with some notes on each and then, at the end, compare it to the package the Mariners were willing to give up to get Upton before he declined the trade.

If you look at those ZIPs projections, you notice that Martin Prado is actually projected to be better than Justin Upton, and many have pointed out that he had a better rWAR in 2012 than Upton. Over the past 3 seasons, Prado has averaged a 2.3 WAA and 4.03 rWAR, which is quite impressive. He has had over 1 defensive win above average over the last 3 years as well, according to DRS. UZR likes him, but less, especially in 2010-2011 (before he was rated as 1.78 wins). If you replace DRS with UZR and add the “runs created above average” (RBAT according to BR), he still was worth 1 and a half wins above average (!) over those 3 years. One can discount defensive metrics, as they do have their problems (if you look at just the brute number of balls he is turning into outs, or range factor, he has been below average in left field over the last 2 years), but he does provide some positional flexibility. He can play 3rd, which is good considering Arizona had problems with that position last year and have traded away both Ryan Wheeler and Chris Johnson now, along with left-field and has even subbed in at shortstop and 1st base on occasion over the last two years. Even if he isn’t a great fielder, if he can hold his own at several different positions, like say a Zobrist or a Bonafacio, he provides quite a bit of value. With that said, one of the reasons the Diamondbacks made this trade was because of a created logjam in the outfield. So Prado probably won’t play much left field, and the Diamondbacks did sign Eric Chavez. Chavez is unreliable thanks to platoon and injury issues, but he is a decent player. The Diamondbacks could see him as more of a pinch hitter, which should help Chavez stay healthy. With the bat, he simply isn’t as good as Upton, and he is 4 years older, but this isn’t a 1 for 1 trade. I don’t think Prado is actually better than Upton, but that is why the Diamondbacks received some minor league players as well.

Randall Delgado was nearly a Cub in the middle of the season, before Ryan Dempster declined a trade. A 22 year old (will turn 23 before Spring Training begins), Delgado has been given 24 big league starts (127.2 innings) and hasn’t been spectacular (or even quite average, with a negative WAA and 113 FIP -), but he has held his own. The lack of strikeouts could be a little concerning, but he is getting ground-balls. He has a good fastball, averaging 92.5 MPH, actually throwing many moving fastballs (not surprising when you look at the ground-ball rate) reaching up to about 97 MPH. Many seemed surprised that the Diamondbacks didn’t get Julio Teheran in the trade, as he is the better prospect with perhaps a better fastball (averaging 92.8 MPH, reaching 96 MPH), but Teheran really struggled in 2012. Delgado also throws a healthy amount of changeups and curveballs, both reasonably hard with the changeup being the big strikeout pitch for Delgado. Since 2007, out of the 286 pitchers that have thrown at least 200 changeups, Delgado gets the 13th most whiffs out of swings on his changeup (Blake Beavan is last, King Felix is 39th). So he clearly has a good fastball and a big strikeout pitch, but his curve is lacking, as his curve is 202th in whiffs/swings since 2007, between Jo Jo Reyes and Randy Wolf. Delgado’s ability to develop a 3rd pitch, whether it is the curve or something else, will determine whether or not he becomes more than an averagish starter. But for now, the Diamondbacks get an okay cheap young starter with the potential to get better.

randall_delgado_braves

I wrote about Zeke Spruill here, so there is no reason to repeat myself when it comes to him. He seems to be pretty close to the Majors, but he doesn’t have great stuff, so his ceiling will be very low. While he may be able to keep himself in the Majors for a while, he isn’t going to be an impact pitcher. Despite some decent numbers in the minors, I wasn’t impressed with his breaking stuff, so a pessimist might say he becomes a long man/low leverage reliever/swingman. He will get some ground-balls, but he won’t strikeout a lot of hitters.

According to the data I collected here, Nick Ahmed, a former 2nd round pick who will turn 23 in Spring Training, was the best minor league shortstop according to FRAA in 2012 and he was the 2nd best (out of 116) according to Range Factor. He is also a good baserunner, as he was 19th best according to Speed Score and stole 40 bases. The question is the bat, as StatCorner rated his power as below average and he had a 104 wOBA +, which is above league average, but not overly impressive when he hasn’t even reached AA yet. He played in a slightly pitcher friendly park, but not extreme. He isn’t quite highly as rated as Nick Franklin is (more on that later), but there is a lot to like about his profile, and he doesn’t have to become a great hitter, he just needs to be adequate.

Brandon Drury is a 20 year old right-handed infielder that has mainly played 3rd base since being drafted in the 13th round in 2010 by the Braves. Defensively, he is clearly below average and may have to move to first long term (he has already played significant time there). This may be bad news for Drury, as though he was young for the level, he was considerably worse than league average offensively, not hitting for much power or average (nor walking very much). There aren’t a lot of reasons to expect Drury to amount to much.

So how does this deal compare to the one the Mariners and Diamondbacks concocted? The first thing you notice is the lack of big league players. The Mariners were going to give up Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Nick Franklin, and Taijuan Walker. All of these players were at least in AA in 2012, unlike the Braves trade. I was not a fan of this trade for the Mariners. While Pryor and Furbush are relievers, they are both good relievers, and the Mariners were giving up their 2nd best position player prospect, and their best pitching prospect (who is a top 20 and perhaps top 10 prospect in all of baseball). The Braves weren’t giving up this. Ahmed is further from the Majors than Franklin, and why there are less questions about positional certainty and the glove, there are more offensive questions. Drury appears to be nothing, while Spruill looks like a back of the rotation pitcher. While Delgado comes with a little less risk than Walker and is further along in his development, Walker has a better fastball and curveball and clearly has the higher ceiling. Even if the Braves had given Teheran instead of Delgado, that still doesn’t equal Walker in my opinion. I don’t think Martin Prado, as solid of a player he is, makes the difference of the upgrades of each player (especially when you factor in Chris Johnson, who seems like a serviceable player at 3rd, ideally not a starter, but provides some offensive value at the corners). The Mariners were willing to give up more than the Braves. I don’t think the Diamondbacks necessarily got embarrassed, and depending on how you value Prado, but they didn’t get the value they thought they were going to get from the Mariners.

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