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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Jurassic Carl no more...    

Sorry to clog this space up so much lately, but I had to get this out here. They finally managed it, Carl Everett DFA'd and Chris Snelling up to take his place. It's well past time, but we've managed to hang in there in the division, more or less. So, whether they were searching for some return on him or trying to manage the PR fallout by waiting for his batting average to become the lowest on the team (Sexson passed him last night), well, I guess I can see why that might have been attractive. Make no mistake, though, it cost us games. This race could be a virtual four-way tie right now, instead of the Mariners looking up from the bottom.

But enough of that. It was a horrible signing, but it's over now, and Bavasi is slowly inching the Mariners closer to a roster that's impossible for Hargrove to mismanage too terribly. If we could replace Mateo and Piñeiro with decent players, we would actually be a good team (assuming last night wasn't a sign of things to come for Gil Meche). As for Snelling, he's in a bit of a slump right now, but I'm not worried about his hitting. He eviscerated AAA pitching in 2005 before going on to put up good numbers (.276/.382/.448, 1 HR) for his brief time in the bigs (29 at-bats) before his knee gave out again. He had a great June, and every indication is that if he can stay healthy he will hit very well majors. Of course, that's a bit like saying Kerry Wood would be a useful part of the Cubs rotation if he could stay healthy, but it's always possible.

The injury concerns could lead the Mariners to pick up an insurance policy at DH. The two names most linked to Mariners in this regard are David Delucci and Todd Walker. Either would platoon at DH with Eduardo Pérez, and Delucci might play more left with Ibañez as the DH, it's hard to say. I wouldn't be upset with either of these, but I'd rather see the team focus on pitching. If Snelling can't stay healthy this year, either Petagine or Shin-Soo Choo would make a decent platoon partner with Pèrez. On the other hand, Piñeiro is a complete disaster right now, Mateo should never see another high-leverage at-bat, and the state of team is such that if Meche reverts to form, we're completely sunk.

The Mariners may have internal options there as well, but they're not as attractive. Francisco Cruceta looked for some time like an obvious choice to replace Piñeiro in the rotation, but he's really stunk of late, and no one else is really presenting themselves. So, a starter is the key, but the market is thin and they will be expensive. I might just give Cruceta the shot anyway. But whatever happens, either Mateo or Piñeiro has to go if we want a chance at this thing. The most important thing has happened, though. The Mariners will now begin to get some production out of their DH, which you know, is kind of important in the American League.

10 Comments:

  • And now, Shin-Soo Choo to the Indians and Ben Broussard to the Mariners. Clevelands 1B platoon, now the Mariners DH platoon, unless there is a move for Sexson in the works. There has been rumors that the Giants want him, and they have a huge hole at 1B.

    But I think the Mariners consider themselves true "buyers" at this point, so I don't see Sexson going anywhere. I wonder if Snelling will stick...my guess is yes and that Dobbs is headed back to Tacoma. It means that Snelling will be sitting on the bench, but there are worse problems to have, and I don't think he's the kind of prospect who absolutely needs at-bats right now to stay good.

    Fair enough. It's not what I've been imagining, but it's a good platoon. And, depending on the PTBNL, it's probably a good trade. If they go buy some pitching somewhere, this could get pretty exciting.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 5:45 PM  

  • Wow, Snelling's only 23? He's had time to become a hot-shot prospect, blow out his knee (twice), rehab his knee (twice) and he's still younger than me? I thought he was at least 27. Maybe he can still put it together.

    Also, Broussard gives them some flexibility at 1B and LF (he played some LF in Cleveland a year or so ago, right?). Seems like that could give them some options if they want to trade for some pitching. Ibanez to the Tigers for a pitching prospect? They really want a lefty bat...

    And, um, what does PTBNL stand for?

    By Blogger chas, at 6:59 PM  

  • Ibañez is a Mariner for life, or at least that's what I keep reading. They want him to be the new face of the franchise, which would be fine with me if they would just agree to platoon him at DH in order to do so (much less possible with Broussard on the roster as well). More likely that Sexson might go somewhere, but I don't think so.

    I really hope they keep Snelling up. He can play LF better than Ibañez, hit LHers better than Ibañez or Broussard are this year, and hit RHers better than Pérez. He can spell Ichiro in right if necessary, and if Ichiro/Hargrove would ever let/make it happen, he could play RF every once in a while to let Ichiro spell Jones in center. He's been playing a lot of center in Tacoma, but I don't think anyone thinks he can actually handle that anymore. So much more useful than Dobbs, who is really only a LH Willie Bloomquist that can't steal bases or play shortstop.

    If Snelling can keep his ACLs intact, he will be a major league player. He is a very, very good hitter. The problem is, his injuries have mostly been on the basepaths, which leads one to believe that just DH'ing him (which also limits his value) isn't a real solution. So, he'll have stay healthy.

    PTBNL = player to be named later. Usually, it's a nobody, but it's against the rules to trade someone on the DL except as a PTBNL. So, there's some speculation it could be Reed, because people don't understand how Choo could have netted Broussard. But, most people are saying they don't think Reed is a real possibility. We'll see, I guess, eventually.

    I like this deal more and more except that I see Ibañez and Brousssard as pretty redundant. Hopefully one of them can relearn how to hit LH pitching, since both were fine at it before this year. Hopefully, it's Ibañez, because I don't think the Mariners will platoon him either way.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 7:23 PM  

  • By the way, combined platoon lines of Broussard/Pérez this year:

    .352/.385/.616
    21 homers
    66 RBI
    21 doubles

    That doesn't include the inevitable few at-bats each got (and will get) against pitchers from the wrong side, so it doesn't tell the whole story. But let me just say, HOORAY!

    I'm concerned that Snelling was sent down. He would be a much better bench bat than Dobbs and a legit starter at LF, RF, and of course DH when necessary. And he would be insurance, good insurance, against other teams exploiting Benuardo's platoon splits.

    But Hargrove is still running this show. He's pissed about these moves and said he wouldn't play Snelling. So there it is. Mariners won't fire him mid-season, so we're stuck. The scarier question might be, "will the Mariners fire him if we sneak into the playoffs?" I don't know if I can take another year of him.

    In other news, Mateo and Piñeiro still suck ass. Thank god they won't be back next year.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 10:19 AM  

  • Here's Keith Law's pessimistic commentary on the trade:

    Another bad move for Seattle
    posted: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 | Print Entry

    The emptying of the cupboard continues in Seattle as GM Bill Bavasi trades another position-player prospect for a part-time bat in Ben Broussard. Sure, Broussard is hitting for average this year, but he'd never hit above .275 prior to this season, can't hit lefties (although the Mariners now have Eduardo Perez for that) and has below-average power for a first baseman.

    But the real issue here is the continued moral hazard at work with a GM whose job is widely believed to be at risk trading decent prospects for marginal major leaguers. The Mariners are in last place and they are 34-48 within the American League; they're a bad club and not a playoff contender in any sense but a mathematical one. They continue to make bad decisions with their roster and with parceling out playing time, some of which is on the GM but a good chunk of which is the work of manager Mike Hargrove. This is not a club that should be trading prospects for complementary players like Perez and Broussard.

    Shin-Soo Choo has solid tools across the board, with nothing below average, and as a center fielder who makes a lot of contact and has slightly above-average (grade 55) power, he could start for about a dozen teams right now. He was boxed out in Seattle, with Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibañez signed long-term and Adam Jones their projected center fielder of the future. But that should only have impacted their willingness to trade Choo, not their expected return on a player who is major league ready and set to only earn the minimum salary for the next three years.

    With Grady Sizemore entrenched in center for Cleveland, Choo becomes the team's right fielder against right-handed pitchers as the Indians don't have a solid corner outfielder in the upper levels of their system. The Indians could also try to move him to a team that needs a center fielder and try to acquire a better hitter to play right or try to address the team's pitching needs for 2007.

    By Blogger chas, at 11:31 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger chas, at 11:38 AM  

  • Chas, you had posting privileges, but you didn't seem to have much interest in using them. I'm sure you could petition Jeff to get them back, if you want to start actually posting things. Or just be off-topic all the time, whatever, I don't care.

    Anyway, obviously Jeff is all over your Red Sox bit already, but let me just say this about Keith Law: He has no idea what he's talking about. I'll accept that his pessimistic take on Broussard is a possibility, but he is neglecting a number of things about Choo and about the situation:

    1) Choo cannot play CF. Just because they put him there in AAA sometimes does not make him a center fielder. He's not. If he were, he'd probably be playing CF for the Mariners right now.

    2) Choo is *far* worse at hitting LH pitching than Broussard. So we gave up a projected platoon LH batter, who plays marginal defense and has marginal power but good speed and a good arm for an actual platoon LH batter who also plays marginal defense but is already destroying RH pitching. I'll take that.

    3) Broussard, like Ibañez hit lefties fine before this year. He's been beating up righties much better since he started specializing, but he doesn't have a history of extreme platoon splits. So, if manages a few big hits off of lefties later this season, his line might not end up looking all that bad, and he himself could end up a hot commodity to trade in the offseason or later.

    4) Broussard is under contract through 2008, and Pérez through 2007. Both are cheap. It's not like we got rent a players or took on a huge amount of salary or anything. To me it's a classic over-valuing of minor league talent because prospects are so exciting. That said, I think used correctly (which he will be in Cleveland, as a platoon RFer, which is perfect for him), Choo has a chance to be a decent major leaguer and I'm happy for him that he's getting that chance.

    5) The Mariners "cupboard" looks empty because the best prospects are already playing for the Mariners: Hernandez, Lopez, Betancourt, Lowe, Jones, Soriano if you still consider him a prospect (which would only make sense because he's a potential starter and hasn't been tried that way since his injury). We still have Jeff Clement who could be amazing, Ryan Feierabend who could be like a better version of Washburn, and some RH pitchers who could pan out like Cruceta and recently-drafted Brandon Morrow. And there's a number of interesting-but-not-projectable possibilities like Mike Wilson, Wladmir Balentien, and Matt Tuisasasopo.

    Finally, he underestimates the capacity for upgrade at DH for the Mariners, specifically. Take this quote, for example, From Steve Kelley's column over at the Seattle Times today:

    "Among 86 American League players with enough at-bats to qualify for consideration, Everett ranked 85th in batting average (.227), 83rd in on-base percentage (.297), 81st in slugging percentage (.360) and 84th in OPS (on-base plus slugging) at .658."

    At DH! Benuardo is a huge, huge upgrade, and better than Snelling would be. It's a good move, probably for both teams. And that's great. To me the only real problem that I see is that Broussard and Ibañez should both be platooned, and should both DH. In my fantasy world, we spin off Broussard during the offseason for some pitching, platoon Ibañez with Pérez at DH next year, and Snelling stays healthy all year in left. But that's unlikely and I don't think the organization will want to platoon Ibañez anyway, so this is probably just as effective as any likely scenario.

    It's all about pitching right now. The rest is basically taken care of.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 3:13 PM  

  • First, I wasn't trying to be snarky or anything about not being able to post, since I basically forgot the blog existed until you sent me your "Fire Hargrove" post. Just trying to explain why my posts may not even approach relevance to the topic sometimes (also, glad that Jeff posted Olney's vague and intriguing quote on the main page).

    Second, let's not forget that Keith Law was assistant GM to the Blue Jays during the Mondesi Era. Love those tools!

    Third, I don't think it's all that easy to spin Broussard for pitching with the way the market is for young, cheap pitching right now (only made worse by the success of Liriano, Papelbon, Verlander, etc); I like him, but I think, at best, you can get a mid-level relief prospect, or a high-risk, high-reward (i.e., throws a really good fastball, and that's about it) 19-year old starting prospect. If you want a good return on pitching, I think you have to consider trading Sexson, which is unattractive because he's underperforming and undervalued right now.

    Fourth, doesn't seem like Snelling's going to get a shot until they fire Hargrove, and even if the new manager likes him, what are the chances of him staying healthy for a full season?

    Fifth, if you trade Sexson, what would be the backup plan? How close is Clement to the majors and could he play 1B? Or is his value at catcher, and Johjima is just a placeholder? Are there free agents you'd have your eye on? Do you have any prospects or redundant players (possibly Reed or Johjima) that could be traded for a 1B? Or are you happy with some combination of Reed, Snelling, Broussard, Perez and Ibanez covering LF, 1B and DH on a given night? And if THAT's the case, what are the chances that Bavasi would be happy with that?

    By Blogger chas, at 3:58 PM  

  • Jeff Clement??? I think Bavasi should trade for Matt Clement, just to complete the set.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 4:47 PM  

  • I know you weren't trying to be snarky, I just want to get a little dig in. Sorry.

    Agreed, I wasn't thinking Broussard would have fetched something by himself, I was assuming we sould send prospects as well. And I was including Snelling staying healthy all season as part of my fantasy world; I know that's not realistic.

    I do think, though, that Hargrove would give him a fair shot next year if he deserved it, he's just not prepared to now. One of the interesting trends that's emerged in my attempts to understand Hargrove's psychology is his propensity to save things for later. That's why he prefers Dobbs, because Dobbs can play 3B if necessary. It's ridiculous, but whatever, and it doesn't have that much bearing on whether or not Hargrove would start Snelling if that was the right thing to do.

    Re: trading Sexson, his value is improving. He's been hitting ok the past few months, and the home runs he does hit are still absolutely crushed. So, he might fetch something good in the offseason if he keeps it up.

    Clement has struggled a bit in AAA this year and probably won't be ready for the majors next year. His bat is a decent bet to play at first, but it's hard to be sure, and they'll do their best to keep him at catcher. Supposedly his defense is improving, but I don't really know. We'll know more next summer.

    If we move Sexson, then it's Benuardo at first, Raul DH'ing and a left fielder. I can live with that if we get good production out of LF. Basically, for a legitimately good package I would trade Sexson, but I would want to feel like I was getting the better end of the deal. Still leaves Ibañez getting at bats against lefties, which is the main thing I'm trying to avoid in my theoretical overhauling of the offense, but it should be fine.

    The Mariners are one of the highest revenue teams in baseball, and should have a good chunk of change to spend in the offseason. Getting cheap pitching isn't the highest priority for me. Good pitching is the priority. I really wish we hadn't signed Washburn. What a disaster. But one overpaid marginal starter shouldn't sink a rotation that includes Felix Hernandez.

    There it is. If we sign Zito or Matsuzaka and a cheaper, decent, option in the offseason, we'll be very, very good. Without a real pitching upgrade, we could be staring up at the Angels again if they manage to fix some problems.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 4:49 PM  

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