Reminds Me I’m Alive
I kind of alluded to it in my preview of the Texas Rangers, but while it may in fact be a quiet off-season there are some serious decisions to be made and I for one am interested to see how Jack Z handles it.
The situation I am referring to would be that of the DH role. While we all love Ken Griffey Jr. we cannot continue to have him be the DH for this team. Obviously, he has brought a lot of fans out to see him this year. But, he has been worth a total of -0.1 Wins above Replacement. This is the total value he has brought as an individual player.
Now, before you start spamming the comment button to tell me what an insensitive moron I am and how I do not have value his locker room presence, let me say I don’t think the Mariners but 80+ wins up (if they split the rest of the games this season they are on pace for 84 wins) on the board without him. I think he has brought unity to a dysfunctional group. I greatly appreciate what he has done as a mentor to many of the players and how much he has helped Ichiro during the last few months.
But, with that said he has shown that towards the end of the season his body is going to deteriorate. It’s a very good thing that Mike Sweeney decided to get hot otherwise I think there would have been some even greater issues with our offense.
I do believe that Griffey could come back and play another year with Seattle. I believe that it’s possible with a stipulation, he would take the token Mike Sweeney position. This would mean he not be an every day player or even a designated platoon partner for anyone. He would be the pinch hitter guy who comes off the bench in tight spots. He has shown he can still hit the long ball and he brings an awesome environment to the locker room. I believe they will leave it open to him, should he turn it down I think they will offer the same role to Sweeney but both guys will not be back next year.
All that said; understand that this creates a hole within the DH spot. So far this year the Seattle Mariners have gotten approximately 0.1 WAR from their DH. This is taking Griffey’s -0.1 and Sweeney’s 0.2 and combing it into the massive 0.1 wins above replacement. If, as Jon pointed out in a comment below, the Mariners want to contend within this very competitive division next year they are going to have to make some upgrades to the team.
The Designated Hitter role is in my opinion where they are going to maximize their biggest upgrade value. While some would argue that LF is a growing concern with Michael Saunders lack of improvement at the plate. I tend to be rather hesitant in writing off such as young (and very talented) player who has a history for struggling at new levels. Regardless of how he has hit he has been awesome in the field, and besides the spectacular plays he also makes the hard plays look easy. So far posting a UZR/150 of 12.3. Get back to me next year, after coming off a season where he should have 150 PA and I think that it will give him the experience to make the needed adjustments this off season and come next year I think your going to see a new Michael Saunders.
Besides Griffey there is a list of available individuals this off-season that “could” fill the hole.
Out of that list of available names that I believe could get mentioned this off-season I find the most interesting names are that of Hideki Matsui, Jermaine Dye, Brian Giles, Hank Blalock and Carlos Delgado.
—NOTE—-I did not include Russell Branyan on this list because in this post we are assuming he is the starting first basemen.
Taking a look at how they valued from a hitter perspective, I find the best statistic from fan graphs to be (hitting) weighted runs above average. (***DISCLAIMER***This is just my opinion and should someone else like to give me a better statistic to use and the reasoning behind why they think that it is better I’d be glad to change my mind.)
Besides hitting value it is important to know and compare total Plate Appearances (PA), BB%, K%, ISO and BABIP between hitters and understand what makes the effective vs. ineffective
PA 455 – wRAA 16.8 – BB% 12.0% – K% 15.4% – BABIP .270 – ISO .233
Beyond the Godzilla vs. Ichiro problem that seems to be some sort of issue between the two (How big it is and if it would keep the two from playing on the same team professional, I’m not sure and wouldn’t speculate on the issue as of right now). It seems there is this growing debate on if he is for real, after an injury plagued year in 2008 and the almost always above average BABIP. Playing in a tainted land such as Yankee Stadium III will do that for you, just look a Johnny Damon. But, if notice he’s still putting up great numbers with a .270 BABIP and he still has a wOBA of .373. He really can not play the field and he is an injury risk but he has hit very well at Safeco in the past (in 99Abs he has 4 Hrs, 10 doubles, and 32 base hits) and his style of play is what Don Wakamatsu likes to emphasis. Good hitter, patient, draws walks, can put the ball in play when needed and even hit for a bit of power. I tend to think that if he should come to Seattle he would have fewer than 20-25 Home runs. But that’s just my opinion
PA 516 – wRAA 7.5 – BB% 10.4 – K% 21.7% – BABIP .276 – ISO .208
Out of everyone on this list he is the most unlikely candidate and let me tell you why. HE IS RIGHT HANDED! While yes he brings some needed power to the line-up the front office has shown that they like to emphasis the use of left hander’s within this line-up. I know that Jose Lopez has success with hitting home runs the thing you have remember about Lopez is he is also a MAJOR pull hitter. But, there are other players that have had success as right handed hitters within Safeco.
His days in the field are over and he would fit in very nicely with this line-up he’s still only 34 and has years to play and I have always been a fan. However, I just don’t see him as a fit I wonder how much it will take to get to the table let alone how much he will sign for, I get the impression he still believes he’s a Top 20 player. Ultimately if I was playing GM on MLB2K9 … he wouldn’t be my first choice but, I would totally sign him.
PA 653 – wRAA -16.5 – BB% 10.4% – K% 13.8% – BABIP .214 – ISO .080
Everyone looking at him is going to be extremely worried about his stats. But, you know what. Ultimately he is suffering from horrible luck. I don’t know how but it’s just happening. His strike outs are amazingly below league average he has a very good BB% but his BABIP is nearly .90 points below LEAGUE AVERAGE! I don’t know if he is worth taking a flyer on, but he considering this is a lot of problems with that organization in general right now, I imagine that there could be more here that meets the eye.
Two things I do consistently wonder about Giles, is he maybe injured or just suddenly hit his wall and it’s time for him to stop playing. Apparently from reading “Gaslamp Ball” (Padre’s equivalent to Lookout Landing) he has been playing with some sort of knee injury off and on all year. He is 38, but for his entire career he has sat around league average and now it suddenly drops after a solid year last year? I don’t know if I buy it.
PA 443 – wRAA -4.7 – BB% 5.0 – K% 23.4% – BABIP .255 – ISO .229
Blalock is the epitome of an all or nothing hitter. He also has a history for running into his fair share of injuries. While still young (29) he really has very little use in the field and I have a strong feeling that he will not be brought back to Texas because of money issues. The question is does an all-or-nothing hitter really belong in this line-up? I know it worked really well to have Russell Branyan in the line-up but even by Russ’s standards Blalock won’t hit for average and will not be a huge on base guy. We have heard the rioting that started to go on the second Russell Branyan’s BABIP dropped to league average .300, which for a guy like him is still great.
Blalock is my new Jack Wilson, I like him, I wouldn’t mind him on my team. But he isn’t my first option, I think there are better guys out there and are available that won’t cost as much as what Blalock will.
PA 112 – wRAA 6.0 – BB% 11.3% – K% 21.3% – BABIP .343 – ISO .223
Be weary of such a stat line as above. It looks good, it looks solid, but in 100 plate appearences Josh Wilson looked similar to Jose Reyes. You’ve heard the Josh Wilson debate and there is no need to revive it, however this is why I continue to press for patience for Michael Saunders. Things can get better, or they can continue being poor. One can never tell, the real issue behind Carlos Delgado is that he has some injury risks. Nothing new to this list, however, what he also brings is a prior connection. In 2003 he almost signed with Seattle and I don’t know if it was because he liked the team, the city or if it was just a pay check but, this is the first real connection that we have of any of these players on this list that could potentially be headed to Seattle this winter.
There are even more available players that could step up and take the DH position that could be acquired in a trade (check out the Keith Law post on ESPN about Prince Fielder) or even RULE V draft. The idea is just to see who is out there and while these options aren’t awesome, we need to understand that they are all have the potential to be better than what we have now. No disrespect to Junior, I love him and appreciate that he came back. I’m more than happy to have him apart of the bench team next year. But, if we are going to compete we need to start looking to upgrade positions and all these mentioned below will be available. The question is how much money will they require and how much will we have to upgrade?
I tend to agree with Jon in the fact that while we have depth with Mike Carp over at first base I don’t know if I really believe he can play 150+ games, with his lack of prototypical power and no real defensive value. While, this would let Branyan DH and I think in doing so would give him more longevity during the season. I tend to think Branyan will be back as our first basemen, simply because he showed he could handle the role, however it’s far from an open and shut case but that is a case to be made at another team.
If Branyan stayed at first base that would leave the DH role open to audtions ( assuming that we can resign branyan, and the Mets don’t decide to overpay for him to come play in NY, just the latest Branyan is going to place X rumor in the off-season).