Mariners Sign Shoppach

As of about 8PM yesterday, it is official that Kelly Shoppach, Catcher, has signed with the Mariners, pending today’s physical. His contract is for $1.5 million dollars with $500 thousand in incentives.

Shoppach is a .226 career hitter, with 67 homeruns in the MLB. He has accumulated 7.9 WAR during his eight years in the Majors. He has never played a more than 115 games in a single season, and has played over 90 only once.

In other words, Kelly Shoppach stinks.

He is an average fielder at best. He doesn’t do anything particularly well. Have you seen him try to steal a base?

This is the man the M's just signed. Image screen capped from link to left.

This is the man the M’s just signed. Face planting. Image screen capped from this video.

He brings nothing to the Mariners. Except maybe, maybe, a veteran presence. But the M’s already have lots of those. Raul Ibanez, anyone?

He’s not nearly as good as Ronny Paulino, the M’s other backup to Jesus. Ronny is an average defender who also bats .325 against lefties.

Did I mention that Shoppach strikes out 33% of the time? That makes him the most strikeout-prone player in the Major Leagues!

Maybe the M’s brought him in to get hit by a few pitches, as he does that in about one out of every thirty-three at bats.

The Mariners probably should have given the $1.5 million dollars they are guaranteeing  Shoppach to charity. Or they could have just given it to Felix Hernandez for being awesome.

Anyway, the M’s made a meaningless signing. They brought in a worse version of their backup catcher. They brought in a backup to their backup. Thank goodness this is only a one-year contract. That is what makes this signing bearable.

Posted in Mariners | Tagged kelly shoppach, new signing | Comments Off

Will Bourn Create a Legacy in Seattle?

Excuse the bad pun, but would Michael Bourn be a good fit for the M’s?

If the M’s did in fact sign him, there would need to be several lineup/roster adjustments, in addition to draft pick repercussions.

The M’s would have the two best defensive outfielders in the game, with Bourn and Gutierrez, plus an above-average defender in Saunders, rounding out the best defensive outfield in the game.

The M’s would also have to give up their first-round draft pick to the Braves, as the M’s don’t have a top-ten pick. This may be an issue for some people, but for me, it’s a non-factor.

And I’ll tell you why.

Why does a team draft someone? For them to become a star. For them to hit 40+ homers a year, win three World Series single-handedly and make the GM rich and famous.

But why draft someone that might not become a good major-leaguer when you can just sign one right now for $60 Million. It would be like giving up a player who could potentially be good in 3-4-5 years for someone who is good right now.

Michael Bourn would fit the Mariners rebuilding scheme for right now. He’ll still be good in 2014, the year the M’s are gunning to start winning after years of rebuilding, while draft pick x from 2013 will still be running around in Single or Double A.

Also, having Bourn in the outfield would keep Mike Morse out of the outfield, which is obviously a good thing.

But having Bourn around complicates the current logjam even further.

That would mean having three different 1B/DH types in Justin Smoak, Mike Morse, and Kendrys Morales. The simplest thing to do would be to trade one of the three, and it definitely wouldn’t be one of the two new acquisitions.

So the M’s would need to do something with Justin Smoak.

BUT HE COULD BE SOOO GOOD!

Now there’s a decision to make. Do the M’s keep faith that Justin Smoak will eventually hit .280 with 25+ homeruns? Or do they jump ship, trade Smoak, and sign a big, shiny contract with Bourn, committing to him for the next 5-6 years.

This is a tough one.

By adding Bourn the M’s would get a guaranteed 5-6 WAR for two or three years, then 3-4 WAR for the remainder of the contract. Keeping the fact that Bourn has produced a WAR of 4 or higher in each of the last four years, it is possible they get the same production for much cheaper with Smoak.

Let’s ignore possible Smoak trade scenarios for a bit, as that’s an article for a different day. Rather, let’s talk about Bourn’s possible contract.

Bourn does have Scott Boras as his agent. Thus every GM in the continent is scared. I would be fine with any contract better than 4 years and $65 Million. If it is on the good side of either of those numbers, I would be happy.

Of course we are now so close to spring training, there is speculation Bourn could sign a one year contract and try for the big bucks again next year. So the M’s could get in on that.

If Jack Zduriencik signs him to a one year deal, he could flip Bourn to a contender at the deadline for a nice haul if he’s playing well.

I currently am indifferent as to whether the M’s sign Bourn. If they do, I would be excited, but if they don’t, I’m not going to cry about it.

Ideally we could get Bourn for one year, flip him at the deadline, get a nice haul, keep Smoak, and go after a big name or two next year.

That most likely won’t happen, but I can dream, can’t I?

Posted in Mariners | Tagged mariners, michael bourn, rumors | Comments Off

Figuring Out the Mariners’ Logjam

The M’s have a problem. A big problem with a bunch of big guys who can’t run very  fast and who’s gloves are not quick.

The Mariners have eight players; Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales, Jesus Montero, Mike Morse, Mike Carp, Rauuuuuul Ibanez and Jason Bay who all seem to be DH’s who are competing for four roster spots. Justin and Kendrys and Jason and the Mikes are gunning for 1B. The Mikes, Raul and Bay are looking for a spot in the outfield. Montero is currently locked into the catcher position. All of these guys can DH.

So how will the Mariners do it?

Eric Wedge, the M’s Manager, has said that Justin Smoak will be manning first base. The Mariners are not going to bench Kendrys Morales, so we can assume he will be at DH. Mike Morse is looking for the 1B, DH, and an outfield spot, and the M’s won’t have him warming the bench. So let’s slot him in at Leftfield. So at this point the M’s opening day lineup would look something like this:

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

(the 2-8 slots can be mumble-jumbled up depending on performance)

So what would the M’s do with the other guys?

This regular lineup would mean Carp, Ibanez, and Bay are out of regular jobs. Ibanez has said he won’t be a role player but rather a starter (not going to happen). Each player has a flaw; Ibanez is almost a hundred years old, Carp stinks, and Bay hasn’t had a good season since (Little League… haha) 2006.

So what to do?

Ibanez is the best, posting the highest overall WAR of the three in 2012. Ibanez can fill in for Morse in the OF, Smoak at 1B, Morales at DH, or any combination of positional flip-flops that may occur.

Also, as much as the sabermetricians would like to say that ‘being good in the clutch’ doesn’t exist, anyone who watched Ibanez last year in the playoffs, or Kyle Seager with 2 two outs and RISP, would like to say otherwise. Ibanez single-handedly advanced the Yankees to the ALCS in 2012, while Bay and Carp toiled around with negative WAR’s in regular-season land.

Carp and Bay have a high likelihood of being cut.

Jesus Montero also doesn’t look like he is going to play catcher every day, so recent signing Ronny Paulino will have to sub in for Montero once in a while. Ronny’s best value is against left-handers, as is Jesus’.

So in order to get Montero a break, it needs to be against a lefty. Kendrys Morales struggles against southpaws. So it works out well to put Montero in the DH spot against a left-hander, and sit Morales. You could also do the same with Smoak, by sitting him and tossing Kendrys in at first.

Raul Ibanez is almost a non-factor when facing lefties, so he should only sub in against righties. Mike Morse has nearly identical splits against righties and lefties, so Wedge should put Ibanez in for Morse when Morse needs a break and the M’s are facing righties.

Raul also could sub in for Smoak if need be. It wouldn’t matter if it was against a righty or a lefty because Smoak hasn’t hit very well against either one. Morales could also hop in for Smoak on Smoak’s off-day, and put Raul at DH. Or if you wanted to give Montero and Smoak a day off simultaneously, Montero could head in to DH, Paulino could catch, and Smoak could warm the bench with Morales holding runners on.

But Montero needs to be in at catcher as often as possible, as his splits are better when behind the plate than when he’s in the dugout. While the split could be a fluke, if I were the Mariners, I would test Jesus out behind the plate more often than not.

So a sample lineup against a left-hander (when the M’s would give most off-days) could be:

Sitting Montero:

  1. Dustin Ackley, 2B
  2. Franklin Gutierriez, CF
  3. Kyle Seager, 3B
  4. Mike Morse, LF
  5. Kendrys Morales, DH
  6. Justin Smoak, 1B
  7. Michael Saunders, CF
  8. Ronny Paulino, C
  9. Brendan Ryan, SS

Sitting Smoak + Montero (Option 1):

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

Sitting Smoak (Option 2):

  1. Dustin Ackley, 2B
  2. Franklin Gutierriez, CF
  3. Kyle Seager, 3B
  4. Mike Morse, 1B
  5. Raul Ibanez, LF
  6. Jesus Montero, C
  7. Kendrys Morales, 1B
  8. Michael Saunders, RF
  9. Brendan Ryan, SS

Both of the above options have a player who’s not tremendous against lefties based on their splits, Ibanez and Morales, so it might suit the Mariners well to go out and find a right-handed utility player who hits lefties pretty well.

Sitting Mike Morse (against a righty):

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

There are obviously many more lineup configurations that Eric Wedge and Co. will likely play with throughout the season, but these are a few samples to work from.

In conclusion, Jason Bay and Mike Carp will be cut, traded, released, or removed from Seattle by other means. Raul Ibanez will round out the OF/1B/DH dilemma by filling in likely twice or three times per week while providing a veteran presence and perhaps pinch-hitting every so often.

Posted in Mariners | Tagged 2013, jesus montero, justin smoak, kendrys morales, logjam, mariners, mike morse, raul ibanez | 1 Comment

Kendrys Morales’ Goals for 2013

This will be the final installment of my goals series for 2013.

Will he return to previous form? Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Will he return to previous form? Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Kendrys Morales will play a huge role in the development of the Mariners in 2013. He had a down year last year, due to missing the entire 2011 season with a broken leg. He hit 22 home runs and was on base at a clip of .320.

Morales had an all-star-esque season in 2009, batting .306 with 34 homers. That year, he posted a WAR of 3.4. He has not played well since breaking his leg in 2010. The Mariners, of course, are relying on him to bounce back to something reminiscent of 2009 form, but something even a bit less would make M’s fans everywhere happy.

Now for Kendrys’ goals.

1. Play 150 games.

Last year, Morales missed 28 games. This year, he needs to be healthy so he can find his new groove at the plate in a new ballpark. The M’s will have DH space available throughout the season, as they currently have Montero, last year’s DH, backstopping. Morales and Justin Smoak will likely split time at first and DH.

2. Hit 30 Home Runs

The M’s have had a serious power outage for several years. Only one M’s player has eclipsed 30 home runs in the last four seasons, and that was Russell Branyan, with 31, in 2009.  The M’s have also had only three 20 homer seasons since 2009, Russell in 2009, Jose Lopez in 2009, and Kyle Seager in 2012. If Morales were to knock 30 over the new fences in 2013, he would be considered a successful trade, no matter what else he does.

3. Play Better than Jason Vargas.

This is unavoidable. Morales will be compared to Vargas for this season and likely the rest of his time with the Mariners. So how does he silence the doubters? Play well. Vargas projects to have a 1.9 WAR in 2013, while Morales projects to have one of 2.5.

Kendrys Morales has been tossed into a tough situation, for many reasons. There’s a logjam at 1st base. He’s playing in a new city. The M’s traded for him by sending away a fan-favorite. A brand new shiny contract. Not to mention he struggled in the second half of last season.

Morales will have to prove to fans that he has fully recovered from his injury in 2010. He will have to add to the M’s lineup, and not be a distraction.

Morales has the potential to be an all-star for the Mariners. Will he become one? Only time will tell. I think he will.

Posted in Mariners | Tagged 2013, goals, kendrys morales, new year's resolutions, new years goals | Comments Off

Mariners Trade Jaso, Make People Upset

I taking a short break from my break to talk about the dumb Jaso trade.

Savior or flop?

Savior or flop? Image from Wikimedia Commons.

It’s official. The Mariners have made their first dumb move of the offseason. Things were going so well up until, well, now.

The Mariners traded Jaso for Michael Morse in a three-way deal that sends Jaso to the A’s (add insult to injury!) and some minor league pitchers to Washington.

This trade leaves a gaping hole at catcher for the M’s. Now we need someone, well, someone like John Jaso.

Until other moves are made, Jesus Montero is our number one backstop, which is quite terrifying. If you didn’t know, his defense stinks worse than accidentally leaving dead fishing worms in your room for a week. (not like I ever did that…) Hopefully Zunino can reach the majors quickly.

Jaso’s WAR was 2.4 higher than Morse’s last year, and in only six more games. The Mariners surely just misunderstand the whole WAR thing.

The M’s are relying on yet another aging player (31 years old) to bounce back to previous form (31 homers, .303 average in 2011). Morse was by no means a bad player last year, however, him having an all-star showing in Seattle would be nothing short of a minor miracle. Seattle has been where sluggers go to die.

The ideal situation is that Morse is an all-star, Jaso flops, we trade Morse for a nice package of prospects at the deadline, and never see him again.

But that certainly won’t be the case.

Jaso will go on to play well, maybe get traded again, and play well on his new team far beyond his 2015 contract expiration. Morse will jack 17 homers before the deadline and we trade him for a mid-level prospect who never pans out.

I am not a pessimist, but I can’t imagine what one would have to say about this. It’s hard to get excited about an injury-prone, only-31-but-past-his-glory-days slugger

I hope in October I’m writing and article about how stupid I was to have thought about this trade in this way, but I don’t see it at the moment. If this trade pans out I’ll…I’ll… aw forget it.

 

Posted in Mariners | Tagged jesus montero, john jaso, michael morse, trade | Comments Off

Tiny Little Break

This is the first of the rare (bi-yearly, most likely) variety of posts explaining why there hasn’t been a post in a few days. I’m in the midst of studying for mid-terms this weekt, so I won’t post again until this weekend. I’m swamped in work trying to get my grades into safe-territory. You know the feel. I’ll have something nice ready for you on Saturday. Stay tuned.

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Assorted Goals for Key M’s Players in 2013

This is the fourth installment of my goals series for the M’s key players. Today is Michael Saunders turn.

Instead of continuing the whole series giving each player equal ‘air-time’, I’ve decided to do a combination article for Michael Saunders and Justin Smoak, as I do not see them being as big of contributors as Montero, Ackley, Seager, and Morales, whose article I will post soon.

First off, Michael Saunders.

Michael before a game last season. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Michael before a game last season. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

2012 was a huge step for the former 4th round pick, playing a whole season at the Major League level for the first time.

In 2012, Michael batted .247, almost a .100 point increase from 2011. His OBP also increased almost .100 points, from .207 to .306. He hit 19 homers and stole 21 bases. He posted a WAR of 2.3. Here’s Michael’s goals for areas to improve for 2013.

1. Play in 150 games.

In 2012, Saunders played in only 139 games. While he had no major injuries, he had many minor ones which all kept him out for a couple of weeks or days. Michael will be most valuable, obviously, if he doesn’t miss an eighth of the season.

Michael made a huge leap in 2012, and while we should not expect another .100 point increase in his batting average (but we can sure hope!) Michael should get more comfortable with his new swing and make large strides. I expect him to increase his WAR by about .7-.8 to 3.1.

Justin heading to bat on May, 10th, 2011. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Justin heading to bat on May, 10th, 2011. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The Golden Justin Smoak

The prized pig of the Cliff Lee in 2010 has underperformed so far. He has not lived up to his MVP expectations. However, 2012 showed some signs of life for the young slugger, as he batted .040 points higher in the second half, and batted .341 in September/October.

Here is Justin’s goal for 2013. Can he finally live up to the hype?

1. Continue the second half through this entire season.

I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect Justin to bat .341 for the season, like he did in September, but I think we could expect Justin to bat a little better than .217. After his little trip to Tacoma, Justin came back on fire. That’s when he hit .341. So I don’t know what he figured out down South, but whatever it was, hopefully he can continue.

So don’t expect Justin to bat .341, or .217, or .242, but expect him to hit near .270-.280, as his .357 September BABIP is slightly higher than what he’s done in the Minors.

Saunders and Smoak both look to breakout in 2013. This could be the final chance for both of them with the Mariners, as management might look to move them both to make way for new talent coming up and in such as Nick Franklin, and Kendrys Morales.

This article was hard to write, as it is somewhat hard to get excited and predict for guys heading into their fourth and fifth years in the league and have never batted over .250 for a year. Hopefully they can pull through this year, but look for Saunders and Smoak to be on the block before too long.

Posted in Mariners | Tagged 2013, goals, justin smoak, michael saunders, new year's resolutions, new years goals | Comments Off