September 14, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton (32) hits a double driving in a run against the Seattle Mariners in the eighth inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers won 9-3. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE Oct 13, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher hits a double against the Detroit Tigers in the 8th inning during game one of the 2012 ALCS at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

JJ's Other Offseason Plan

Last week, I wrote about what moves I think the Mariners should make over the winter. And I still like that plan and think it is a viable option to improve the offense. But the more I think about it, the more I want us to spend some more money and get a legit power bat. Nothing against Choo as he is a fantastic hitter, but he isn’t a big time homer guy, hitting just 16 this year, with his career high being 22.

When I think about legit power bats that are available, I automatically think Josh Hamilton, for obvious reasons. But there are other options such as Nick Swisher. So in this edition, I will base my plan around players like them.

Sign Josh Hamilton to a 6 year, $115 million dollar contract. OR Sign Nick Swisher to a 6 year, $ 100 million contract.

Sign Grady Sizemore to a 1 year, $2 million (plus incentives) contract.

Trade Mike Carp and Trayvon Robinson to Tampa Bay for Sean Rodriguez and Chris Gimenez.

Re-sign Hisashi Iwakuma for 2 years/$9.5 million.

Sign Jeff Francis for 1 year/$1 million OR Carlos Villanueva for 1 year/$3 million

Consider trading Vargas if an opportunity arises to get another bat, but do not try to look for a trade.

The obvious change here is the big move. Signing Hamilton or Swisher rather than trading for Choo. While all three are good hitters, Hamilton is the best, followed by Swisher, then Choo. Hamilton is one of the best players in the game, and probably won’t be AS expensive as you would expect.

Here is a comparison of Swisher and Hamilton for 2012:

Player

wOBA

wRC+

HR

WAR

Hamilton

.387

140

43

4.4

Swisher

.363

128

24

3.9

Obviously, Hamilton was the better player, but it was closer than you might have expected. Hamilton was amazing for a couple months, then fairly average for the rest. One thing Swish does have on him is being a switch hitter, and consistency. Hamilton has some injury history, and can be streaky at times, whereas you pretty much know what Swisher is going to give you year in and year out.

Defense is a little harder to measure, but I’d say Swisher is a little better. His average UZR for his career is about 2.4, whereas Hamilton’s is -1.35. This is another instance where Swisher is more consistent, as his highest UZR is 6.9, lowest is -2.2, whereas Hamilton’s range is between 9.8 and -14.6.

On top of that, Swisher has the flexibility to move from the corner outfield to 1st base, which could be very beneficial to the team. If Smoak looks like he has figured it out, Swisher can play right field. If not, and Casper Wells or someone like that plays well, then Swisher can move in to 1st.

When deciding between the two, money will be the biggest factor. Does the $15 million you save on Swisher outweigh the obvious gai.n in upside and star-power that Hamilton brings? Does Swisher’s flexibility and consistency give him some edge over the somewhat unpredictable Hamilton? I think it does, and part of me prefers Swisher to Hamilton. But the other part loves Hamilton, and wants his MVP caliber play in Seattle. Either way is a win in it’s own right.

Now to the lesser moves. Signing Grady Sizemore to a small, incentive based deal makes a lot of sense to me. His career has been derailed by injuries and may be looking for a fresh start. He hasn’t played more than 100 games since 2009, and a full season since 2008. In 2008 he put up All Star caliber numbers with a .376 wOBA and 131 wRC+ to go along with 33 home runs. He missed all of 2010 and this year, and only played 71 games in 2011. Grady is a local kid, and if he can stay healthy he is a really good player. He might be interested in coming home and trying to revive his career. We could use a part time bat in case Guti gets hurt again. Who knows, maybe he even outplays Guti and wins the job. These are the kind of guys we should be targeting along with the big bat I talked about before.

I talked about the Iwakuma deal and Tampa trade in the other article, so I will just briefly outline it. Iwakuma was solid this year (although not as good as his ERA and Safeco made him look), and it makes sense to bring him back for a couple years to hold down the fort until the Big 3 are ready. The trade with Tampa trades from a position of depth in order to acquire a position of need. Rodriguez can play anywhere in the infield, and hits fairly well for a backup. Gimenez gives us a backup catcher than can also play in the corners, so we don’t feel like we are wasting a spot on a 2.5th catcher.

Francis is in a similar situation to Sizemore. He has been good in the past, but hasn’t been able to put it all together for a while. He is a good option to fill out the back end, or to battle with Beavan for the 5th starter role. Villanueva  has bounced between the rotation and bullpen for his career, and has done a good job in that role the last couple seasons. He would most likely take the 5th spot outright, but might cost a little more.

As for Vargas; I think we have to consider a package with him if presented to us. I don’t think we should shop him for C-level prospects, but if a package included him in order to acquire Ike Davis or something like that, then we should consider it.

Here is what the team would look like with these moves:

 

Position Player Salary Position Player Salary
C John Jaso $1,000,000 SP Felix Hernandez $20,700,000
1B Justin Smoak $550,000 SP Hisashi Iwakuma $4,750,000
2B Dustin Ackley $1,500,000 SP Jason Vargas $6,000,000
SS Brendan Ryan $3,000,000 SP Erasmo Ramirez $500,000
3B Kyle Seager $500,000 SP Carlos Villanueva/

Jeff Francis

$3,500,000/

$1,000,000

LF Michael Saunders $1,000,000
CF Franklin Gutierrez $7,500,000 CL Tom Wilhelmsen $500,000
RF Nick Swisher/

Josh Hamilton

$14,000,000/

$16,500,000

RH Carter Capps $500,000
DH Jesus Montero $500,000 LH Charlie Furbush $500,000
RH Stephen Pryor $500,000
C Chris Gimenez $500,000 LH Lucas Luetge $500,000
IF Sean Rodriguez $1,000,000 RH Shawn Kelley $1,000,000
OF/IF Grady Sizemore $2,000,000 RH Blake Beavan $500,000
OF Casper Wells $500,000
Total $72,750,000 (Swisher)

or

$75,250,000 (Hamilton)

 

 

Vs RHB Player Bats Position Vs LHB Player Bats Position
1 Dustin Ackley L 2B 1 Dustin Ackley L 2B
 2 John Jaso L C 2 Franklin Gutierrez R CF
3 Jesus Montero R DH 3 Jesus Montero R DH
4 Nick Swisher/Josh Hamilton S/L RF 4 Nick Swisher/Josh Hamilton S/L RF
5 Kyle Seager L 3B 5 Kyle Seager L 3B
6 Michael Saunders L CF 6 Michael Saunders L LF
7 Justin Smoak S 1B 7 Justin Smoak S 1B
8 Franklin Gutierrez R CF 8 John Jaso L C
9 Brendan Ryan R SS 9 Brendan Ryan R SS
Bench Chris Gimenez R C Bench Chris Giminez R C
Bench Sean Rodriguez R IF Bench Sean Rodriguez R IF
Bench Grady Sizemore L OF Bench Casper Wells R OF
Bench Casper Wells R OF Bench Grady Sizemore L OF

That lineup looks pretty solid, and we still cut pay-roll from last year. The added offense from Swisher/Hamilton, the improved depth and expected improvement from the young guys should make for a very solid team. If you estimate each players WAR, which is very tough to do, you might get something like this (Keep in mind this is just a biased, yet educated guess):

Position

Player

WAR

C

John Jaso

3.0

1B

Justin Smoak

2.0

2B

Dustin Ackley

3.0

SS

Brendan Ryan

2.0

3B

Kyle Seager

3.5

LF

Michael Saunders

3.0

CF

Franklin Gutierrez

2.5

RF

Swisher/Hamilton

4.0/5.0

Bench

Grady Sizemore

1.5

Bench

Sean Rodriguez

1.0

Bench

Casper Wells

0.5

Bench

Chris Gimenez

0.5

SP

Felix Hernandez

6.0

SP

Jason Vargas

2.0

SP

Hisashi Iwakuma

1.5

SP

Erasmo Ramirez

1.5

SP

Francis/Villanueva

1.0

RP

Blake Beavan

0.5

RP

Lucas Luetge

0.5

RP

Carter Capps

0.5

RP

Sean Kelley

0.5

RP

Stephen Pryor

0.5

RP

Charlie Furbush

1.0

RP

Tom Wilhelmsen

2.0

-

Total

44/45

It is widely believed that a replacement level team (0 WAR) would win about 45 games. So if you take my projected team WAR of 44-45, then you could predict this team to win about 89-90 games. Obviously it is very difficult to predict these kinds of things as there are so many other factors. People get hurt. People slump. People breakout. Personally I think the 89 win prediction is a little high (I know, it was my prediction in the first place). It definitely isn’t out of the question, but I think 85-87 is more realistic, and would be a great improvement.

Winning 86 games in the first year after the exit of the rebuilding stage is a great step forward. There are still players that are developing, and some who will begin to do so, which will keep improving the team. With these changes, I could see 90 wins in 2015 for sure, and maybe even 2014 as well. We are in a tough division that keeps getting tougher, but we are a lot younger than them. As our rivals start to age and regress, we will be at our strongest point, ready to take over.

It’s only a matter of time.

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Tags: Grady Sizemore Josh Hamilton Nick Swisher Seattle Mariners

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