Mariners Trade Carp for Next to Nothing

When Mike Carp was Designated for Assignment a few days ago, it became common lore

Picture of Mike Carp.

Mike Carp. Probably a baseball player. Definitely not a professional model. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

that Carp would be traded. This was confirmed when Jack Zduriencik said a couple of days ago that a deal involving Carp would be completed within the next 24-48 hours.

Well he was telling the truth.

Carp was shipped off to the Boston Red Sox for a PTBNL (player to be named later) and/or cash considerations.

The Mariners will get their choice of four lower-level prospects from the Red Sox organization, or, of course, the cash.

This deal had to be done as Mike Carp was not going to have a spot on the roster, due to the Mariners adding depth at first base and left field this offseason.

Mike Carp, by no means a world-beater, will probably receive ample at-bats in Boston. The Mariners lost a mediocre player with little chance for meaningful long-term impact at the Major League level. The money or the minor leaguer will likely help the organization more than Carp could have.

Anyway, with Carp gone, the Mariners roster got a lot better looking–Carp is a damn ugly guy.

Posted in Mariners | Tagged mike carp, trade | Comments Off

Dustin Ackley and the Junior Breakout

At one point, many people believed Dustin Ackley was the future of the Mariners. After Ackley’s 2012 campaign, only a rare breed of statistical curmudgeons still held that belief. I am one of those rare statistical curmudgeons.

Last year, Ackley suffered from a severe case of the Sophomore Slump. But I believe that in 2013, Ackley will prove to the world why he was once the number-two-overall-pick.

Ackley had a bone spur removed from his ankle this offseason. It had been bothering him

Expect a big things from Ackley in 2013. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Expect a big things from Ackley in 2013. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

severely throughout all last season. He had the spur removed on the first day of the offseason. This could be reason to believe that the bone spur was more than a slight hindrance to Ackley’s game.

With that growth removed from his ankle, Ackley will have a clear mind/body in Spring Training. He’ll be prepared to focus on his game rather than his pain.

The fences coming in will help Ackley mentally, in addition to adding a few more homers to his totals. Based on his hit chart from 2012, Ackley would have hit three more homers had the new fences been in place, raising his total from 12 to 15.

15 looks a lot better than 12, doesn’t it?

Dustin’s BABIP in 2012 was .265. BABIP, essentially the stat of how lucky a player is, indicates Ackley was incredibly unlucky last year. If his BABIP was equivalent to his minor league BABIP of .310-.315, Ackley batting average would have been .252-.256. His OBP would have jumped to .340-.345. Compared to Ackley’s 2012 numbers, I would take those stats any day.

If you take Dustin’s Major League BABIP from 2011 and apply it to his 2012 season, Ackley would have hit about .275 and had an OBP of .344. Stats like that, in addition to his 2011 slugging percentage, would have put Ackley’s 2012 WAR at 5.3.

A 5.3 WAR is worth $24 million dollars. A 5.3 WAR would have made Ackley the 20th best hitter in Major League Baseball, and the 24th best player overall, including pitchers.

That is not bad. That is exactly what one would expect of a #2 Overall pick. Of course these hypothetical situations could be considered overly optimistic or horrendously outrageous, but I don’t think they are.

Ackley will have a breakout season in 2013. He will not be as unlucky as last year. He will hit more homers than last year. His ankle health–will be better–than last year. His mental approach in Safeco Field will be better than last year. He will have one more season of experience in the batters box and at second base and he’ll be playing with a chip on his shoulder.

Expect big things from Dustin Ackley in 2013.

Posted in Mariners | Tagged 2013, breakout, dustin ackley | 2 Comments

Felix Hernandez Forever: In Depth

With pitchers and catchers now in Peoria, and Felix officially in a Mariners uniform for the next seven years, it’s time to praise analyze the Mariners’ decision to sign Felix for $175 million dollars.

Felix Hernandez is a little happier now.

The King is a little bit happier now. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Felix will receive $19 million in 2013, (half a million less than he would have received if not for the new contract. Then he will receive $22 million in 2014, $24 million in 2015, $25 million in 2016, $26 million in both 2017 and 2018, and $27 million in 2019. There is a club option for $1 million in 2020 which can only be exercised if Felix severely injures his elbow and is on the DL for an extended period of time. Hernandez also received a $6 million signing bonus.

Any way you slice it, this a great deal for all three sides (the front office, Felix, and the fans). The front office is obviously happy because they don’t have to worry about one of the top three pitchers in baseball running away to free agency in 2015 for $200 million dollars, Felix is so happy he had tears in his eyes during the press conference, (but seriously, who wouldn’t be brought to tears by $175 million?), and the fans are happy because our favorite Mariner will be here for a long, long time. Additionally, haters will not say Felix is going to be traded to the Yankees, because there is a full no-trade clause built into the new contract.

Here’s why I like this contract:

  • Felix Hernandez is staying in Seattle
  • Felix Hernandez is staying in Seattle
  • God forbid if Felix gets hurt, he stays in Seattle another year

Whoops I forgot one…

  • Felix Hernandez is staying in Seattle

The Mariners should be incredibly happy because the have the most solid foundation an organization could ask for: a 27-year-old pitcher entering his prime.

If you didn’t know, Felix has improved remarkably over the past few seasons, and is likely not to slow down any time soon, making this deal even sweeter. Although his velocity has decreased somewhat over his career*, his strikeout per nine innings rate has risen every year since 2007, and is now at 8.65 K/9. He posted the best walk and homerun rate of his career in 2012, at 2.17 BB/9 and 0.54 HR/9 respectively. Hernandez’ FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) last year was the best of his career, coming it a diminutive 2.84. Felix is now pitching, instead of standing on the mound and throwing.**

Anyway, the M’s front office should be ecstatic they got The King locked up for seven years. He could have waited two years and made millions more.

Felix Hernandez obviously loves Seattle, and Seattle obviously loves him. With any luck, prospects will develop and a few bounces will go Seattle’s way, and will give this town a playoff appearance during Felix’s reign.

*His velocity has shown a gradual downward trend. His average fastball velocity has decreased about 4 MPH since 2007, from 96.3 to 92.4. However, he is throwing other pitches, such as his slider, cutter, and change-up, more often. Interestingly, last year, his fastball velocity increased as the season went on.

**He learned to pitch (rather than throw) a while ago, he is simply learning more.

Posted in Mariners | Tagged contract, felix hernandez | Comments Off

Predicting the M’s Opening Day Lineup

The current M’s opening day lineup has only one thing set in stone–Felix Hernandez will be starting. Everything else is up in the air.

But my mission as a Mariners fan and blogger is to try and grab each of those puzzle pieces from the air and slam them down on to an orderly piece of paper in the same way that Eric Wedge will do in two months.

Where will Michael fit into the opening day roster? Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Where will Michael fit into the opening day roster? Image from Wikimedia Commons.

So we begin.

First we need to know who the M’s will be facing on opening day. They are facing the Oakland Athletics, and the A’s number one starter is Brett Anderson. The M’s will be facing a big lefty. This lineup needs to be geared to knock around a southpaw.

The M’s have several players who do not fare well against lefties, notably Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales. They should bat seventh and eighth, as the nine spot is always reserved for defensive wizard Brendan Ryan.

  1. Kyle Seager
  2. Kendrys Morales
  3. Brendan Ryan

Pitcher: Felix Hernandez

Justin Smoak also doesn’t knock lefties around the park, so we’ll slide him in the six-hole.

  1. 1B- Justin Smoak
  2. 3B- Kyle Seager
  3. DH- Kendrys Morales
  4. SS- Brendan Ryan

Pitcher: Felix Hernandez

Jesus Montero absolutely murdered left-handed pitching in 2012 to the tune of a .322 batting average, so he deserves the clean-up spot. Mike Morse will follow him in the five-hole, as he hit .290 against lefties last year.

  1. C- Jesus Montero
  2. LF- Mike Morse
  3. 1B- Justin Smoak
  4. 3B- Kyle Seager
  5. DH- Kendrys Morales
  6. SS- Brendan Ryan

Pitcher: Felix Hernandez

Now that leaves us with Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, and Franklin Gutierrez all vying for the top three lineup spots.

Franklin Gutierrez absolutely smacked lefties last year, and despite the small sample size (71 plate appearances) I still entrust the three hole to Guti.

  1. CF- Franklin Gutierrez
  2. C- Jesus Montero
  3. LF- Mike Morse
  4. 1B- Justin Smoak
  5. 3B- Kyle Seager
  6. DH- Kendrys Morales
  7. SS- Brendan Ryan

Pitcher: Felix Hernandez

Now only the last two spots are available. Ackley and Saunders are interchangeable at the one and two spots in the lineup, however, since Ackley hit lead-off more than Saunders last year, I’ll assume that Wedge won’t change his mind. That leaves us with the final lineup of:

  1. 2B- Dustin Ackley
  2. RF- Michael Saunders
  3. CF- Franklin Gutierrez
  4. C- Jesus Montero
  5. LF- Mike Morse
  6. 1B- Justin Smoak
  7. 3B- Kyle Seager
  8. DH- Kendrys Morales
  9. SS- Brendan Ryan

Pitcher: Felix Hernandez

It’s a good idea to look at M’s backups to see if anyone could potentially sneak into the starting lineup over the current starters. Raul Ibanez and Eric Thames both do not hit well versus lefties, however, Casper Wells is intriguing due to his .364 OBP against left-handers. If an outfielder gets hurt in Spring Training, look for Casper Wells to sneak in and take his lineup spot.

That’s my prediction for the M’s Opening Day Lineup. What do you think? What changes would you make?

Posted in Mariners | Tagged lineup, opening day, predictions | Comments Off

Mariners Extend Felix Hernandez Through 2019

HAZAA! PRAISE THE BASEBALL LORDS! THE MARINERS HAVE DONE IT!

SOURCE: The Mariners extend Felix Hernandez in their reported 7-year, $175 million dollar contract.

This is the most important thing the Mariners could have done in their current situation. It shows they are committed to winning, committed to Seattle, fans, and everything else nice and happy.

The same goes for Felix.

This deal will silence the doubters; those who ‘knew’ that Felix would be traded, those who ‘knew’ Felix would never spend his career with the Mariners.

The Mariners have just told their fans that things will get better. That M’s fans won’t suffer much more.

7 years and $175 million dollars is a long time. It is a long commitment. But it is also one that the Mariners needed to make.

Not to sound cocky or anything, but this is almost the exact contract I predicted the M’s would sign Felix to five days ago. Felix signed the largest contract for a pitcher in history, and he is also going to be the highest paid pitcher for a long time. That is until Justin Verlander or Clayton Kershaw signs a bigger one.

I will wait until this deal is ’100%’ finalized, but for now, I’ll let it sink in. The M’s have the best pitcher in the majors for 7 more years.

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Does Jesus Montero Have a Future With the Mariners?

Jesus Montero is an enigma. An enigma who can’t hit right-handed pitching. An enigma who doesn’t hit well at DH. An enigma who is in  danger of losing his job.

Jesus Montero is currently slated to start at catcher for the Seattle Mariners. He will be backed-up by Kelly Shoppach and/or Ronny Paulino (I sure hope Paulino). In 2012, Montero played 78 games at DH, and 56 at catcher. In those 78 games at DH, he batted .227, while when behind the plate, he batted .310.

When Jesus played at Safeco, he hit .227. Away from home, he hit .295. Against lefties, he hit .322n and against righties, he hit .228. When hitting against lefties, away from Safeco, he hit a whopping .388 in 80 at-bats.

Based on those stats, Jesus was good, maybe great–about a third of the time. But the Mariners won’t be able to have their everyday starting catcher playing poorly two-thirds of the time.

Will Jesus improve on his 2012 campaign? Probably. Enough to avoid getting the boot in favor of Mike Zunino? It might happen.

All we know now is that Jesus is stuck at catcher because not only is he blocked at DH, he also doesn’t play well there. Mike Zunino is looking more and more to be the catcher of the M’s future, especially with his performance last year in the minors.

So what can the Mariners do with Montero? Let’s look at the options:

  1. let him run around behind the plate until Zunino gets called up, then trade him
  2. have him catch until Zunino gets called up, then trade Morales, and move Montero to DH
  3. Montero backstops until Zunino gets called up then bench Montero
  4. he calls games this year and not call Zunino up in 2013, then trade Montero next year
  5. trade Zunino this year or next year

1. If the M’s keep Montero at catcher until they call up Zunino, then trade him, it is a no win situation. Here’s why: if Montero is doing poorly, they won’t get any return for him. If he’s doing well, then the M’s just lost a good player, which would be counter-productive (duh). This option isn’t best.

2. If he’s behind the plate until Zunino’s arrived, then they trade DH Kendrys Morales, Montero would likely play very poorly, as he always does at DH. However, the M’s do get to keep Montero, a semi-fan-favorite, while giving a prospect his cup of coffee.

3. If the M’s simply bench Montero and make him part-time DH part-time catcher, they would be getting the Montero from last season in smaller, better sample sizes, as they could pick his matchups more often.

4. If Zunino is not ready for the Majors this year, this could happen. The M’s would then have another offseason to contemplate different plans for their catching position.

5. Trading Zunino would not be a great idea. The M’s would be giving up a top prospect for no real reason, and they would be banking on Montero becoming great. Which would be bad management.

None of these options are ideal for Montero, Zunino, the Mariners or us fans. So what would be the ideal situation?

Montero could decide he loves to DH, we would trade Kendrys Morales midseason, put Montero in the DH spot, plug Zunino in at catcher, and win lots of games.

The M’s have some tough decisions to make at the catcher position for the next couple of years. Based on the current situation, nothing they can do is ideal. Let’s just hope that whatever ends up happening ends up being the best option possible for the M’s and us fans.

Posted in Mariners | Tagged jesus montero, mike zunino | Comments Off

How Much for Felix?

The Mariners’ contract extension talks with star pitcher Felix Hernandez have apparently stalled. But that begs the question as to how much is Felix actually worth to the Mariners?

Felix already has two years and $39.5 million left on his current contract.

The King being Kingly. When will he get his payday? Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The King being Kingly. When will he get his payday? Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander, the other two top pitchers in baseball, both have organizations that are not yet fretting over their deals, and THEY both have two years left.

But Felix is special. The Dodgers and the Tigers are good teams, while the M’s have been toiling around in the cellar for some time now.

Felix is arguably the only good player on his team. And forget being the only fan favorite.

So how much is Felix worth? Are the Mariners committed to winning and they’ll try to sign a big free agent this off-season? Or are they just pretending that they want to win and the front office will be happy with a bunch of 85-win seasons over the next couple of years?

Felix was the 7th highest paid pitcher in baseball last year. This deal will likely make him the highest paid pitcher in baseball.

First let’s discuss years. The M’s probably want four years. While Felix probably wants six. That would be a ridiculously long time for either deal. The M’s would have time to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and bring together a winning team in both time frames.

So let’s assume that the M’s and Felix agree on 5 extension years. How much is Felix worth per year to the Mariners organization?

Could we see a deal at 5 years and $150 million? $160 million? Or will we see something more in the range of 5 years and $100 million? Or $120 million? How much is the best pitcher in baseball worth?

If advanced stats are any indication of success (they are), Felix is only getting better, and going into his age 27 season, he will likely improve for another two or three years, before plateauing for two or three years and beginning his eventual decline. Felix’s FIP was the best of his career in 2012. His strikeout rate has improved in each of the last six years, and his walk rate has steadily improved over his career.

So the M’s definitely need to lock up Felix over a long, long period of time. They will need to make Felix the highest paid pitcher in baseball ( a King’s ransom for the King), which excluding Johan Santana, would have been $23,000,001 in 2012. So let’s peg Felix at $24.5 million each year for his contract.

That would give us a contract of 5 years and $122.5 million. Then we can toss in incentives of a million dollars for going over 220 innings, and another million for a Cy Young award.

How much do the Mariners need to sign Felix? How important is he?

To put it frankly, if the Mariners lost Felix Hernandez, they would lose roughly 90% of, no, 100% of their fans.

He means so much more to this organization than just elite performance. He is active in the community, and a fan-favorite.

I say that the M’s give him anything he wants, within reason, (under $31 million per year). The M’s front office needs to give the best pitcher in baseball the best contract in baseball. The M’s front office needs to prove to the fanbase that they are committed to winning, and that starts with extending Felix.

Posted in Mariners | Tagged contract, extension, felix herndandez | 1 Comment