Inches and Failing

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While everyone seems to be under the impression a trade for JJ Hardy is inevitable,  lets remember for the time being we still retain the services of Jack Wilson, and while his initial impression on the fans of Seattle may have been less than stellar, and it’s possible that the fans had a small case of Bedard-itis (a situation in which the expectations on a player are higher than those of which the player can achieve), and were looking for the flashy leather or the hits to start coming from a position that had been vacant all year.

The problem is that Jack Wilson is not a hitter – he has had two “good” seasons but has never been nor will ever be a spectacular hitter. He only got to play in 31 games, and that was split up over 3 months worth of time due to random assortment of injuries.

Truth is that last year wasn’t his worst, second worst or even third worst season he has ever had offensively, as much as a lot of people complained about it.

The follow is his  Batting RAR (Park Adjusted Runs Above Average based on wOBA)

2002 –    -19.7
2003 –   – 21.6
2004 –     6.2
2005 –    –19.5
2006 –    –14.2
2007 –     2.9
2008 –    -8.9
2009 –   -13.4

Coming to the American League isn’t going to magically make it better. Even scarier here are the Yuniesky Betancourt vs. Jack Wilson career averages:

YuniJack
BB%3.40%5.40%
K%9.10%12.10%
SwingO%30.40%23.10%
Contact%88.30%87.60%
ISO0.1160.106
wOBA0.2960.298
BABIP0.2920.294
SPD4.64.4
UZR/150-7.45.8
Y/WAR0.381.875

While everyone maybe saying “Yeah, Yeah stuff we knew 4 months ago”  let me get to the point.

While JJ Hardy is without a doubt a better all-around player he still is going to cost us something or rather someone significant. I don’t disagree with the idea of going out and trying to acquire him (or a young up and coming shortstop of some kind) I am just throwing out the theoretical idea that we may not be able to nail down a dream trade. If that is the case we shouldn’t be discouraged about having Jack Wilson as a “the back-up plan”.

Honestly I would love to blow smoke and talk about how Jack Wilson is exactly who the Mariners need, but I don’t honestly believe that. I wasn’t terribly excited for the trade and looking at it at this point I must admit that I’m disappointed, at this strong but failed attempt at “buying low”.

But, Jack Wilson as a consolation prize is great, he brings the best defense in baseball to shortstop, which we have been terribly weak at for a couple of years now.

Fans tend to focus on the fact that Seattle finished last or second to it,  in almost every single offensive production category for shortstops.  At the same time they also finished a below league average defense at shortstop (UZR -3.2  UZR/150 -1.7) and while that not horrible, it’s not good either.

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Wilson’s year-by-year WAR

20020.3
20031.1
20044.3
20052.5
20060.7
20072.6
20081.6
20091.9

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Wilson was nearly worth 2 Wins above a replacement player (think of Josh Wilson) and he STILL only played in 106 games, and while his health is a concern the Mariners have not got that type of real product out of a SS since Carlos Guillen in 2003.

We may come to a point where we can’t upgrade both offense and defense at  the same time for the shortstop position and we may need to pick one or the other and the market dictates that defense is cheaper.

A lot of people will point out that Wilson’s 8mil/ option doesn’t make defense look cheap, and while it might solidify the position it would only be for one year.

There has been a lot of suggestion and rumor that the Mariners and Jack Zduriencik will not pick-up the option instead will re-structure the deal similar to Freddy Sanchez.

Jon over at Proball NW wrote a piece about Freddy Sanchez and how his deal could and most likely would impact Jack Wilson’s contract negotiations with the Mariners, should they want to discuss a new deal.

Of course defense isn’t as cool as hitting home runs or getting on base, but should you need an exhibit A for what defense can mean to a team in a premium position, just take a look at the Franklin Gutierrez case. Everyone has ranted and raved on him since game 1 in the  Metrodome (and even before that from those of us who knew what we got). His defense was incredible and an immediate game changer.

Jack Wilson does the same thing for the Mariners at short stop. Yes, Gutierrez has a much better bat, but going into spring training we had low expectations for him. We just wanted him to play defense and hopefully one day his bat would come around. Maybe we should bring the same attitude towards Jack Wilson.

Should Jack Zduriencik feel that Jack Wilson is the best viable option at this time for the team, he is still an upgrade over last year and we should feel considerably blessed to have such a player of his character and caliber on this team.

This certainly isn’t an I love Jack Wilson post and it’s not a we shouldn’t go after JJ Hardy post. This is a consolation prize post, don’t be mad at him if he’s the 2009 starting shortstop, be happy we upgraded and we don’t have to go through another year with 8 people out on the field.