Obvious Upgrades, Outfielders and Other Assorted Things


I made a comment the other night on twitter that there wasn’t much room for an upgrade on this team. That’s kind of a stupid thing to say. I mean of course there are room for upgrades to make on the team. I’d dare say you could most likely upgrade every position but two on this roster.

But, I made the comment more out of the respect for where we are as an organization and with the encompassing youth that are not only near to contributing but many of them with the team now.

I’ve seen many comments far and wide across different blogs that talk about upgrades and they talk about prospects and I get the feeling that sometimes people make the mistake of thinking that someone youthful, without an ESPN or Baseball America prospect stamp can’t make an impact on a team.

Sure, you’d want an Eric Hosmer, a Desmond Jennings and most certainly a Mike Trout type prospect within your organization ready to jump start an offense like the Mariners. Someone who could make a super-star/all-star type impact on your team. The fact of the matter is however that 99% of minor leaguers are not those players.

Look at the top-5 position players in WAR right now

WAR
Dustin Pedroia 6.8
Jose Bautista 6.7
Troy Tulowitzki 6
Ben Zobrist 5.8
Shane Victorino 5.8

Pedroia during his time was an average prospect, but the year of his rookie breakout (2007) Baseball America didn’t even rank him in their top-100.He was rated as high as #77 overall in 2006 but dropped off due to some injuries.

Joey Bats, prior to being passed around like a cheap party trick, was highest pegged as the 5th best prospect in the Pirates system and never made it on to a top-100 list. Baseball America rated Paul Maholm and Tom Gorzelanny as better potential prospects than him.

Troy Tulowitzki is a bit of a lone wolf on this list as he was rated #25 and then #15 prior to this ascension to stardom. Basically we all knew he was going to be good… pretty much before he got there.

Ben Zobrist didn’t even make an organizations top-10 prospect list. The biggest shout out he got was in 2005 when Baseball America said he had the Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the organization. Outside of that he got little to no prospect love.

Victorino is one of the rule-V draftee success stories that Philly picked up out of the Dodgers organization. Never on much of anyone’s radar but he turned out to be a league average hitter with great defense in center. Then this year he has really broken out and is currently posting a wOBA of .407 and is worth +7.3 runs according to defensive metrics.

The point of this is that you don’t know what guys are going to turn into. That’s not to say that you never trade prospects. There are always situations where you have to compare what is right for your organization going forward.

I don’t like the idea of upgrading the outfield at this time because whether you want to believe it or not Mike Carp is at the very least a big league hitter and he may even be better than that. He may not be a very good fielder and in reality he’s really average at best, but his defense isn’t at a point that it will kill you.

Casper Wells has consistently shown he can hit at every level and is right now an above-average hitter. How long does that last? I’m not sure. But he’s had a consistently high BABIP through our his minor league career so maybe he can keep it up. What’s the point of upgrading him if … well you’re not sure what you have to begin with.

Franklin Gutierrez is locked into a team friendly contract and if he can get back to hitting league average or even slightly below, stay healthy and regain form the guy can easily be one of the best Center Fielders in the game and assuredly in the top-5.

Not to mention all the spare parts you have in Halman, Peguero, Saunders and the newest addition of Trayvon Robinson.

Say what you want, and I certainly realize that each of them have their weaknesses, but each has at least 1 +tool and really outside of Peguero each of them have multiple plus tools. Oh, and then we still have Ichiro to figure out what to do with over the next year.

It’s crazy to think that guys like Logan Morrison, Jason Heyward and B.J. Upton could potentially all be available during this off-season and people get really giddy about upgrading to them.

PA ISO wOBA BB% K% xBABIP WAR ShH wRC+
Jason Heyward 964 0.178 0.354 13.3% 20.1% 0.336 6.1 131 121
Casper Wells 257 0.191 0.359 7.0% 23.3% 0.309 2.5 100 127

Obviously we can tell that Heyward is the better hitter and despite Wells early accomplishments there are some signs that he may not continue to be an above average hitter. The rose colored glasses aren’t that thick. But it’s still possible he’s a better than average player.

Harrison note: Excuse me for just one moment, I’m sure you’re reading this thinking “Where did anyone suggest we trade for Jason Heyward? Is he really available?” Living in the south, specifically about 100 miles out of Atlanta, I get all the Braves games and talk radio (when it isn’t dominated by SEC talk… *vomits*) and they are really disatistfied with him. So, no. No one is talking about him specifically at this point. This is just an example of an above average or a said desirable player becoming available. Every time you see Jason Heyward from this point forward just insert into your mind the outfielder you find most desirable. Saying desirable that many times makes feel kind of creepy… anyways… returning you back to your regularly scheduled post.

Don’t get me wrong you offer me one of Heyward, Wells or Robinson for free, I’m going to take Heyward every time. But, the problem is it’s not free and we would still have to give something too much up to get Heyward. Is it worth 2 or 3 top prospect in order to upgrade a position that we aren’t sure is a weakness on this team anymore?

If you are going to give up a Taijuan Walker or even a James Paxton wouldn’t you rather upgrade a position with more uncertainty. That’s even assuming that you think that the organizational pitching is strong enough at this point to flip one of the better lefties in the upper minors or perhaps the best 18-year-old pitchers in the minors.

I get that we have depth for the first time in years and I’m not opposed to spending from it. That’s only logical as we need to get better. But, acquiring talent to upgrade positions rather than taking to time to find out what you have is straight up Bavasism (kind of like communism but worse… at least for teams that like prospects).

Upgrading for the sake of upgrading isn’t always the smartest move. Certainly you always want to get better. We saw the Red Sox look at possibly acquiring Carlos Beltran from the Mets prior to the Giants locking him down. Sure, they have one of the rookie of the year candidates out there now, but Beltran was still an upgrade to Reddick and the Red Sox certainly explored the option and weighed it.

We aren’t there yet. This Mariners team is just not to the point where we can upgrade average to slightly above average players.

I mean if you want to dream get out and get a guy like Geovany Soto or if you really wanted to make things up go after a David Wright or a Ryan Zimmerman.Those guys both have multiple years left on their contracts. Heck if you’re going to get high, sell the farm and go all in on Evan Longoria.

Anyways… *sigh* …. /rant

I like Mike Carp and Casper Wells. I don’t see them as the corner stores of the future or anything like that. But every team needs building blocks and sometimes those blocks turn out to hold more weight than we thought were possible and yet others crumble. I see them as good ball players and useful pieces for this team going forward. There is time to figure out what they are.

Keep Carp and Wells a long with the few other pieces we have and who knows what comes out next year.

I want a .500 team next year. I EXPECT a .500 team next year. So don’t think this is a “let’s try an experiment and if it fails we can always try again next year.” No, I don’t have that mentality at all. This year was suppose to be interesting. This year was suppose to have it’s fun moments and you know, it has. It has been everything I thought it would be and even a little more. Next year we grow up a bit more as a team and we have higher expectations as a fan base.

With Kyle Seager and Alex Liddi both competing for third base and some really interesting prospects in the out field I don’t see the need to upgrade a lot of pieces. I’d rather see it all play itself out (to an extent).

That said I don’t want to watch Olivo next year that would be a plus and I personally have a plan for that too and his name is Ryan Hanigan. But, I’ll have an off-season plan that I’ll put out and that I’m already complying. (Arm Chair GM, not just Keith’s job).

I don’t see the immediate need to throw away our guys for “big names” just yet. I’m pretty content with how things are coming a long right now. If anything with the extra cash I’d sign a reliever or two. But again, those specific crazy thoughts will have to wait for late October. Until then let’s just enjoy watching teams leave Safeco knowing they lost to the “Mariners”.

I can just hear Terry Francona scream obscenities about losing to the #$@#$@! Mariners. This will help me sleep a little better tonight that and my boss is a Red Sox fan and I’ll really get to gloat tomorrow at work.

Tonight I go to bed with the potential thought that our outfield situation may not be as hopeless as what it was in June. I’m very happy we have Casper Wells and Mike Carp

Pleasant dreams.

 

Tags: Alex Liddi Casper Wells Franklin Gutierrez James Paxton Jason Heyward Kyle Seager Mike Carp Ryan Hanigan Taijuan Walker Trayvon Robinson

  • Uncle Al

    Before making any guesses, we need to know which pitcher we’re going to get as the PTBNL on August 20th. If it’s Ruffin, League can be traded in the off season and they can sign Aardsma to an incentive type contract as he probably won’t be any help next year anyway and get him ready for 2013. Vargas has cleared waivers so it is possible that he could be traded now or in the off season. That would really be a stretch to trade away 3 of your 5 starters but maybe Beaven and Furbush are good enough and only one more spot needs to be filled. Figgins, Olivo, League, and Aardsma are the problem spots next year and cost about $24M in salary. Since there’s only $10M to spend without increasing the Budget, any additional money must come from trading away some of that $24M in salary. The M’s aren’t going to give Aardsma $7M in Arbitration so most of that they’ll be able to use. If they keep Figgins, Olivo, and League, then there’s a little less than $17M to get somebody at 3B and C (for 2013 and let Olivo go). They split time at C with Olivo this year and use Figgins as the Utility guy until they can get rid of him. They have a little money to work with for the 2012 season and a good inventory of trade chips so I’d expect they get some things done for the 2012 season. I see 3B and C as the two areas where they need to get something done as soon as a the right situation presents itself.

  • Uncle Al

    Before making any guesses, we need to know which pitcher we’re going to get as the PTBNL on August 20th. If it’s Ruffin, League can be traded in the off season and they can sign Aardsma to an incentive type contract as he probably won’t be any help next year anyway and get him ready for 2013. Vargas has cleared waivers so it is possible that he could be traded now or in the off season. That would really be a stretch to trade away 3 of your 5 starters but maybe Beaven and Furbush are good enough and only one more spot needs to be filled. Figgins, Olivo, League, and Aardsma are the problem spots next year and cost about $24M in salary. Since there’s only $10M to spend without increasing the Budget, any additional money must come from trading away some of that $24M in salary. The M’s aren’t going to give Aardsma $7M in Arbitration so most of that they’ll be able to use. If they keep Figgins, Olivo, and League, then there’s a little less than $17M to get somebody at 3B and C (for 2013 and let Olivo go). They split time at C with Olivo this year and use Figgins as the Utility guy until they can get rid of him. They have a little money to work with for the 2012 season and a good inventory of trade chips so I’d expect they get some things done for the 2012 season. I see 3B and C as the two areas where they need to get something done as soon as a the right situation presents itself.

  • Harrison_Crow

    Sorry, Al for not getting back to you sooner.

    If you are going to trade League you didn’t need to wait until you find out you get Ruffin. You do it because it’s the highest return you could possibly get for him. I still am not sold that the PTBNL is Ruffin. I still believe it may be Rob Brantly and I’d be just fine with that.

    Aardsma isn’t going to get 7 million from arbitration. At very most it’d be a slight … ever so slight increase over last year, but I seriously doubt it. I think he’ll have nearly the same exact salary he had last year and I’m inclined to believe they may sign him to a two year club friendly deal.Kind of like what you mentioned something incentive laden.

    I am one of the biggest optimist you may ever find but I am inclined to agree with Jason Churchill on Furbush and his mechanics. The guy’s got good stuff but needs to be moved to the bullpen sooner rather than later. I’ve been practicing my shocked face for when they say he needs TJ surgery.

    As for Olivo, Lord knows he annoys me as much as anyone else, but for 3.5 million the guy can stick around for a little while. He still presents the ability to above his overall salary.

  • Harrison_Crow

    Sorry, Al for not getting back to you sooner.

    If you are going to trade League you didn’t need to wait until you find out you get Ruffin. You do it because it’s the highest return you could possibly get for him. I still am not sold that the PTBNL is Ruffin. I still believe it may be Rob Brantly and I’d be just fine with that.

    Aardsma isn’t going to get 7 million from arbitration. At very most it’d be a slight … ever so slight increase over last year, but I seriously doubt it. I think he’ll have nearly the same exact salary he had last year and I’m inclined to believe they may sign him to a two year club friendly deal.Kind of like what you mentioned something incentive laden.

    I am one of the biggest optimist you may ever find but I am inclined to agree with Jason Churchill on Furbush and his mechanics. The guy’s got good stuff but needs to be moved to the bullpen sooner rather than later. I’ve been practicing my shocked face for when they say he needs TJ surgery.

    As for Olivo, Lord knows he annoys me as much as anyone else, but for 3.5 million the guy can stick around for a little while. He still presents the ability to above his overall salary.

  • Uncle Al

    Ruffin is supposed to be pretty good and ML ready for next year from what I’ve read. That gives them a closer for next year and would make League expendable and allow them to try and work something out with Aardsma as he isn’t going to pitch much if any in 2012. No reason at all to go through Arbitration with him and pay $5M +. If they trade for a catcher, he must be ML ready or very close to ML ready in 2012 so they don’t need Olivo as the starter in 2013 if they keep him at all. The 3B situation is the real deep black hole which must also be solved. It’s very possible that they will pick up another SP. The one thing I am sure of is that they have enough money and trade chips, finally, to accomplish that in 2012.

  • Uncle Al

    Ruffin is supposed to be pretty good and ML ready for next year from what I’ve read. That gives them a closer for next year and would make League expendable and allow them to try and work something out with Aardsma as he isn’t going to pitch much if any in 2012. No reason at all to go through Arbitration with him and pay $5M +. If they trade for a catcher, he must be ML ready or very close to ML ready in 2012 so they don’t need Olivo as the starter in 2013 if they keep him at all. The 3B situation is the real deep black hole which must also be solved. It’s very possible that they will pick up another SP. The one thing I am sure of is that they have enough money and trade chips, finally, to accomplish that in 2012.