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Thread: Mariner's Off-Season Thread

  1. #1
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    Mariner's Off-Season Thread

    Hey all you straggling M's fans, I know some of you are still out there.

    The season is over and the GM talks have been going on and the Winter Meetings are coming up next month.

    Not too much has happened yet but there have been a few words to have come out tof there, the biggest being that they have mentioned as possible suitors for Josh Hamilton...

    Anyways, here is a place for any and all M's happenings and rumors.

  2. #2
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    --Number one ojective, just like it has been for quite a few years now, is to land an impact bat. A RFer or 1B would be our best bet. Hamilton is obviously the best bat out there, but the M's would have to be willing to commit big bucks and long years (probably significantly topping any offer from more liley contenders). Swisher isn't at the same level, but he would be a nice upgrade fro us and he could play either 1B or RF bepending on wether Smoak or one of our young outfielders looks like the better bet to step things up.

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    Swisher would not be a bad move. He is a steady bat and would provide a little extra pop to a lineup that really could use it. And yes, his versatility is nice as well.

    My confidence in Smoak is waning greatly and his health, consistency and durability worry me greatly. Swisher would be a nice upgrade to him and at 12-15 Million/year for 4-5 years sure does not sound that bad.

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    I thought I might go position by position over the next while and discuss some of my thoughts on where we are at and any possible needs.

    Catcher:
    John Jaso - At this moment, he is the "starting" Catcher on the team. He was a tremendous asset to the team last year, doing a lot more than I or anyone expected. He only caught in 43 games last year as the backup but made his way into 108 games, mostly due to his bat. He hit .276/.394/.456 with a 144 OPS+ last season! Now if he is to be our day-to-day Catcher, I am sure some of that production will go down but still, having a decent offensive catcher and someone who is not a slouch behind the plate is great. Olivo was good defensively and seemed to have good hustle and pushed the team but his offensive performance was lacking a little (75 OPS+). Sure not the worst by a Catcher but not helping us much in that area either.

    Jesus Montero - In his first full season in the big leagues as a 22 year old, I will say I am happy with what I saw. Cannot say I was amazed but certainly not disappointed either. Factoring in the team, home park, age and lack of experience and seeing that he still was reasonably solid defensively and behind the plate makes me happy. I don't think he is GG material (though who knows what the future may hold) but he seems to hold his own back there. And his 95 OPS+ was not too shabby either. If I could get that from an everyday catcher I would be happy. And I think he should improve next year.

    I expect to see the two of them each split time between Catcher and DH as they did here in 2012. I don't think that we will be in the market for anyone for this position, nor is there a need. And looking down a couple years, Mike Zunino (#4 ranked M's prospect) was showing himself to be quite the hot hitter in A and AA last year and looks to keep moving up real fast. So while we figure out what to do with Montero and meanwhile have Jaso on the cheap for a while yet, no worries at this position. Wish I could say that was the case at all the others.
    Last edited by Edgartohof; 11-12-2012 at 10:38 AM.

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    First Base:
    This is a position which has some immediate questions. The M's depth chart at 1B looks something like: Smoak, Carp, Liddi, all with some serious questions.

    Justin Smoak - 3 seasons in and really nothing from him. Aside from showing that his 6'4'' frame can knock the ball out of the park (though not seemingly at Safeco), we have not gotten much else from him. He hit .217/.290/.364, all of the strength of his September (.341 with 5 HR). Take away his last 26 games and he was a .190 hitter who got sent down mid season. He seems that he might just be another AAAA player, maybe too good for AAA but not good enough for the pros. But unless we pick someone up, he still seems to be at the top to start next year... not especially excited about that prospect. The one upside I can see is that as he is still young maybe he has a chance to pick it up. And he DID finish the year strong... but the biggest thing for me is that he had 15 HR on the road last year and only 4 at home. And now with the M's finally moving in the outfield fences, that could drastically impact a player like Smoak, helping him reach a 25+ HR mark which at least makes him more interesting as trade bait... a thought at least.

    Mike Carp - He got a number of people excited that we may have found another solid bat for the lineup after a good half a season last year but this year just could not keep it up. He hit a measly .213 with only 5 HR in 59 games. The only thing I can say about him is that I am still more excited about him than our recent addition of Scott Cousins.

    Alex Liddi - He is only 23 and has only had a little taste in the Big Leagues so far, certainly nothing consistent. He has had some success in the minors including 30 HR just 2 seasons ago and for that I say we should hold on to him maybe a little longer to see if we could still yet get something out of him. But maybe keep him in Tacoma to start the year to see what he can do in a 3rd season there. He has shown that he can play 1B, 3B and OF so that gives him a little more options as well.

    As I said, all 3 options we have at the moment to not get me giddy. Sorry to say but I would be fine with parting ways with Smoak and possibly Carp. Hold Liddi in the minors and here is where I say look to the FA market. One possibility that has been mentioned is Nick Swisher. Swisher has experience at 1B and OF and has a proven track record of success that the Major League level (9 years) and at 31 is not too far gone to not be able to produce successfully for a number for seasons to come. Maybe throwing 10-12 million/year for 6 years as an option? Yes I think the market will push his number up but even if we have to pay a little more for it, I still think he is worth a good look. He has shown himself to be a consistent 20-25+ HR hitter and with the team moving in the fences it makes it easier to entice him over here. And instead of playing little fiddle in NY, he could immediately be big dog, solid veteran here.
    Last edited by Edgartohof; 11-12-2012 at 10:38 AM.

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    Second Base:

    Dustin Ackley - Young Ackley showed lots of hopeful promise in 2011 but like several other players (such as Carp), came up disappointing last year. He will be 25 in 2013 with a full year under his belt and is the likely starter again at 2B. Hopefully he doesn't pull a Smoak and fizzle out but will step up and begin to produce. They had him batting leadoff for much of the year and I don't think that is a great position for him, maybe either #2 or 6-7 for now would be better until he can perform more consistently at a much higher level. Having a .226 hitter at Leadoff sure doesn't help spark your offense. They need to find someone better suited to that position. No more Ichiro so it is a question that needs to be addressed NOW.

    Technically Seager is in the 2B depth chart and he did play 18 games there last year so I should mention him but he sure seems like our 3B of the near future. There does not seem to be much in the FA market at 2B or much interest from the M's. Looking down the line we have Nick Franklin a SS who has some playing time at 2B.
    Last edited by Edgartohof; 11-13-2012 at 11:09 AM.

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    --Jason/Montero would be a very nice C platoon (at least offensively), but I suspect Montero will end up playing DH quite a bit. I'd like to see him get some work at 1B too. That is a position we could definatley stand to upgrade (Smoak should be on a VERY short leash with a Plan B - or even a Plan A - signed or traded for in this offseason). Zunnino is supposed to already be a better catcher than Montero so Jesus needs to become a Napoli type player. Good bat who moves around from C/DH/1B.
    --It way to early to be looking to pull the plug on Ackey as our 2B, although if he is hitting like 2012 by mid-season next year then it time to look at our other optinons. Maybe Frankin gets a callup or if we have a 3B prospect hitting well (unlikley considering who we have) then Seagar could shift back to 2B.

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    If Montero continues to improve offensively, something I suspect he will, then I wouldn't mind seeing him play DH/1B/ backup Catcher. But yes, if we are to say he will not be our Catcher of the future, moving him away from there might be the best idea. Zunino has only played in A and AA so far (though at a high level so far), so we shall see where he starts next year. Probably at AA and a quick jump to AAA I could see happening. So if 1/3 into the season we need him up for some reason that could be a more viable option depending on how he is doing.

    As far as Ackley goes, I am willing to give him some rope. Franklin still has some work himself so I do not want to rush him. He did well in AA but did not perform the same in Tacoma. Let's let him get going in AAA again and address this again mid-season.

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    Short Stop :

    Brendan Ryan - Can't hit worth anything but apparently drinks from Ozzie Smiths table. His defense was just SO good yet his offense was just SO bad last year. If we can upgrade the offense quite a bit (maybe a great or really good bad added and most everyone improving), then I am fine with keeping him. Our options in the FA market are no more promising than what we have. And I will take his GG deserving defense and hope he becomes less of a sucky hitter (79 hits in 141 games... pathetic really).

    On the depth chart is young Carlos Triunfel, another light hitting SS. I am unsure of his defensive prowess but unless he could show himself to be a major upgrade at the plate, I would just as soon stay with Brendan Ryan. As good as his defense is (and it was good), he does leave a serious hole in the lineup and needs to stay at #8 or 9 in the lineup. Hide him away as long as possible.

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    Third Base:

    Kyle Seager - Actually one of the brighter spots in the lineup last season. He wasn't exactly blasting the ball at a great clip as he hit only .259 with only 46 walks. But he ended the season with 35 doubles and 20 HR both Team leads. And again with the fences pulled in a little could we see 25+ HR from him? I think so. He hit .293/.324/.511 with 15 HR on the road but only .223/.307/.325 with 5 HR at Safeco. If we could get him hitting .250 at Safeco with 10 HR and keep up his road performance, I would be happy.

    Others on the depth chart are Alex Liddi, who has HR potential but still seems to have a few kinks to work out at the plate and sadly, as of this moment, Mr. Chone Figgins is still available. Figgins still has 2 more seasons under contract but needs to be let go. He was underwhelming 3 years ago hitting .259 with 1 HR (the only upside was his 42 SB's) but was pathetic in 2011, hitting a mere .188 but as if things couldn't get worse, only put up a .181 BA in 2012.

    Seager has this position all but locked for now but things can change.

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    Outfield:

    Lots of names here: Michael Saunders, Franklin Gutierrez, Casper Wells, Eric Thames, Calos Peguero, Carp and others.

    Saunders did well in CF, was similar to Seager this past year as he put up 31 doubles and 19 HR last year. So has some HR potential and moving in the fences is a bonus to him and the team as well.

    I am willing to give Gutierrez another chance. Maybe he is healthier, maybe he can still provide GG defense and hit solidly. Don't know if we will ever see .280 with 18 HR again but maybe .265 with 10 HR if he can provide the Defense that we have seen in the past.

    With Wells, Thames and Peguero, there is lots of "potential" but not much in actual Big League Success. They are all big, strong hitters who we all know can hit a HR now and again. But there are too many holes now for them to provide us what we need.

    Saunders and Guti are a good start but I feel we need to bring in someone with a proven track record.

    Maybe adding BJ Upton would be a possibility. Here is a solid hitter, not top of the line but solid hitter with some HR power, brings some speed on the bases, lots of upside. He is coming off a year where he hit a career high 28 HR which is promising. But he is also a low BA hitter with a low OBP (.298 OBP last season!). But his HR numbers have climbed 3 years in a row (18, 23, 28), still steals 30+ bases. Not the biggest game changer but is a possibility.

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    So what does our Lineup look like right now?

    If it is something like what we ended up with last year it would be:

    1. Dustin Ackley - 2B
    2. Casper Wells - RF
    3. Kyle Seager - 3B
    4. John Jaso - DH
    5. Michael Saunders - CF
    6. Jesus Montero - C
    7. Justin Smoak - 1B
    8. Franklin Gutierrez - RF
    9. Brendan Ryan - SS

    Not exactly awe inspiring is it?

    As I have said before, I don't like Ackley Leading off, he should be much lower at the moment. Maybe if we picked up an BJ Upton, who has some experience leading off (though he spend more time in the #2 hole last year), then he could replace Wells but bat leadoff, then Ackley (if he is not moved lower), Seager, Jaso, Saunders, Montero, that is okay. If we could replace Smoak with Swisher, then Swisher could be #4 and scoot the others down and top it off with Guti and Ryan at the bottom.

    That would look like:

    1. BJ Upton
    2. Dustin Ackley
    3. Kyle Seager
    4. Nick Swisher
    5. John Jaso
    6. Michael Saunders
    7. Jesus Montero
    8. Franklin Gutierrez
    9. Brendan Ryan

    If Upton can keep up his OBP to reasonable levels and give us some speed at top as well, I would be very happy. Hopefully Ackley can continue to grow and #2 may not be a bad place for him. Seager now protected by Swisher sounds promising and Jaso, Saunders and Montero in a smaller Safeco also sound good. Not sure what we will get out of Guti at this point but if not him, we have lots of others who can be slotted in. I do hope Brendan Ryan can relearn how to hit over .200 this year because no mater how good your Defense is, when you can't hit... you can't play, sorry.

    So what do you all think? Swisher and Upton could both be within our budget and would be upgrades and provide veteran assistance while neither being too old (Upton will be 28 and Swisher 32).

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    --I think Sauders/Guti can be counted on to handle 1 starting OF spot plus a reserve. With Guti's health record I'd plan on Sauders alot of CF and the rest in a corner. If they are both able to go a good chunk of the season that would be great, but it isn't something to plan on. I'd be okay with a Thames/Wells platoon in one corner. Or better yet, if we landed Swisher then Thames and Smoak could battle to see who wins a job and who gets a ticket to Tacoma (with Swisher 1B and Thames OF or Swisher OF and Smoak 1B). We definately need to pick up an outfielder that we can pencil in most everyday in the 3 or 4 spot in the lineup though. Josh Hamilton is the only guy on the FA market who really fits that bill, but he is going to get a huge, long term deal and the price could be more than the Mariners are upfor.

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    Not to get in the way of your momemtum, but I'm not so sure Upton's the player you want - especially for the dollars/years it'll cost. He's only got a .316 OBP over the past four years while hitting in a more hitter-friendly one than Safeco. Top of that, he's hit .190 in Safeco with an OPS of .539 in 32 games. Not a big sample, but it would give me pause.

    Nick Swisher OTOH, I think is a perfect fit. Can't score runs without guys getting on base and Swisher's very good at it with his .360 OBP. Add in his .287 / .913 OPS at Safeco, and to me he looks much better as an option.

    With the current roster, I'd try Jaso in the 1 or 2 hole. He's the only current player who's close to having a .350 OBP. The Pirates did it with Jason Kendall. The 2 spot is tough, but I'd go with Ackley with Swisher 3rd. With Nick hitting behind him, maybe Dustin gets better pitches to see. After that, I maximize my power hitters in the next three slots. The rest of the OF will require somebody to step up - maybe Gutierrez can stay healthy or Saunders can do something. The #9 won't be much more than a NL pitcher as I don't see Ryan becoming any type of hitter. This is what it could look like with simply an investment in Swisher.

    Jaso* C/DH
    Ackley 2B
    Swisher RF#
    Seager* 3B
    Montero C/DH
    Smoak# 1B
    Gutierrez CF
    Saunders* LF
    Ryan SS

    Ideal? Definitely not. But it does put your two OBP guys (Jaso & Swisher) in front of your power. Ackley showed me he can hit both in the AFL and his '11 season. Like Lawrie in Toronto, I'm chalking last year up to the sophomore slump.

    I don't know if any of this makes sense, but to get two top players on the FA market would be incredibly costly - especially with so many teams with money available to get the price up. And these guys didn't get any cheaper with 37-year old Torii Hunter setting the second-tier bar at $13M per season.
    "Chuckie doesn't take on 2-0. Chuckie's hackin'." - Chuck Carr two days prior to being released by the Milwaukee Brewers

  15. #15
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    Jaso* C/DH
    Ackley 2B
    Swisher RF#
    Seager* 3B
    Montero C/DH
    Smoak# 1B
    Gutierrez CF
    Saunders* LF
    Ryan SS

    I could go with that except I would switch Saunders ahead of Smoak and maybe just move Smoak and Guti down. Saunders showed me he is better than Smoak last year and we should give him more chances at the plate.

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    Another option out there is Michael Bourn. He could be a leadoff hitter for us. Not the best hitter out there but solid and has the speed I like at the top. He has experience leading off which would be nice as well.

    Not having a true leadoff hitter really hurt us last year after Ichiro left (though Ich wasn't doing that great beforehand either).

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edgartohof View Post
    Another option out there is Michael Bourn. He could be a leadoff hitter for us. Not the best hitter out there but solid and has the speed I like at the top. He has experience leading off which would be nice as well.

    Not having a true leadoff hitter really hurt us last year after Ichiro left (though Ich wasn't doing that great beforehand either).
    That can be a problem, though there aren't many traditional leadoff hitters anymore. What do you think gives you the best bang for the buck here?

    Player A: .280/.348/.378 54 SB -13 CS ($17M per season)

    Player B: .288/.344/.344 40 SB -14 CS ($2M per season)

    Player A is Michael Bourn and the average of his last four seasons. Player B is Juan Pierre with the same.

    The main difference between the two would be their arms. Bourn can play CF while Pierre is better off in LF, though he has the legs to get to balls if forced to play CF. The issue I have with Bourn (aside from the money/years it'll take to get him), is that he's reliant on his legs. We here in Philly need a CF as well and there's no way I want Bourn (who was actually one of our prospects some years ago). He gets on base no better than Jaso or Pierre, and in getting Pierre, Jaso can move to #2 in the order looking at the players I listed. The M's could simply go with platoon matchups among Pierre, Carp, Saunders, Gutierrez, etc. with somebody like Swisher playing RF and maybe playing 1B or DH to give him a rest.

    The tough thing for the M's is that they're so far behind the rest of the AL West, that investing too many dollars on FAs over the next 2-3 years might be unwise. If anything, I'd look 3-4 years down the road as the Rangers will be much older as will the Angels and the A's are always a wildcard in how their team looks and holds up. I'd probably look to do small strategic signings to improve the team slightly each year, try to make Felix a lifer, groom the minors, work the payroll so that I can make a pounce in 2015 or so. The tough thing is, when there's so much ground to be made up and you have a 5-7 year FA on your team like Hamilton or Bourn, by the time your ready to make a move on the division, they're on the back end of their deals where they're less likely to produce for the dollars or are flat out failing.

    But moves need to be done wisely. I still don't get the Fister move. I think he would have flourished in that park, and unless the return actually pans out, it could be a huge miss.
    Last edited by Ben Grimm; 11-18-2012 at 09:23 AM.
    "Chuckie doesn't take on 2-0. Chuckie's hackin'." - Chuck Carr two days prior to being released by the Milwaukee Brewers

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    Well, nix that last idea as the Marlins signed Pierre for $1.6M last night.
    "Chuckie doesn't take on 2-0. Chuckie's hackin'." - Chuck Carr two days prior to being released by the Milwaukee Brewers

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    How the Mariners can be contenders
    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/po...-be-contenders

    David Schoenfield is a Mariners fan.
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    How the Mariners can be contenders
    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/po...-be-contenders

    David Schoenfield is a Mariners fan.
    The Mets have the best, smartest fans in baseball.

  21. #21
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    The Mariners have designated Chone Figgins for assignment.
    The Mets have the best, smartest fans in baseball.

  22. #22
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    Thank Goodness!!! The first real sign that the team actually wants to improve!

  23. #23
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    --Hey we picked up Robert Andino too. Halfway to the World Series now!

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    So you are saying we dropped Chone Figgins and picked up a near replica of him? Career .235/.295/.323 hitter... really?

  25. #25
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    --Wells Figgins has hit under .200 each of the last 2 years and made 9M per doing it. Andino should be a little better than that for alot less money (of course we are still paying Figgins too ) and play better defense. Obviously I was joking about him being a big step forward, but he seems like a perfectly decent utility infielder. He will probably be the 24th or 25th player on the roster, but at least he upgrades that spot for what its worth. Baby steps....

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