Jeff Moore who publishes the MLB Prospect Watch blog has written a good, unbiased comparative evaluation piece entitled “Are the Mariners headed down the same path as the Royals?“ at The Hardball Times. Moore starts with, “The Seattle Mariners have a nice core of young talent around which there will be much optimism this offseason. This optimism will be fueled by logic and reason on the part of fans, writers and front office members alike. In what was another down season in the Pacific Northwest, the Mariners can look to this past season’s debuts of some talented young players as reasons to believe in their future. And they’re not wrong to do so. The excitement created by this year’s progress, however, should be met with guarded optimism. Sub-25 players such as Kyle Seager, Mike Zunino, Brad Miller and Nick Franklin give the Mariners a chance to have a solid home-grown base from which to build. Developing talented major leaguers from within is the key to any rebuilding project, and most rebuilding organizations would be envious of this start. They alone put the Mariners in good hands.”
Comment From Kimball: Going to dup a question I posed to Dave, hoping for a more concrete answer: a year ago, Nick Franklin was ahead of Brad Miller on all the prospect lists; now Miller’s on (most) every list of Mariner bright spots and Franklin’s (mostly) written off. Understandable why preferences would switch, but what are some concrete reasons for giving up on Franklin? Yeah, he didn’t make adjustments so well after his great start, but he did rebound a bit, and he’s so young! It’s not like his ugly K% and replacement level D are news . . .
Jeff Sullivan: Nobody’s *giving up* on Franklin, but the reality is that he’s a weak defensive player who strikes out too much and who hits for unreliable power given his body. He’s going to have to maximize what he can do to make up for what he can’t really do, and the upside is very limited. Miller, meanwhile, looks like a potentially legitimate shortstop who can hit a bit.
Comment From Ace: How much will the Mariners overpay Kendrys Morales?
Jeff Sullivan: I wouldn’t be surprised to see something like $33 million/3yr.
Comment From Arquimedes Bozo: The dancing Dodger bear is better than the Mariner moose.
Jeff Sullivan: This giant cork coaster in front of me on the coffee table is better than the Mariner moose.
Comment From Prich: If you are running the Ms, could you justify giving Ellsbury 6/120, based on team needs and recent history?
Jeff Sullivan: Yeah, you could totally justify that. Might not even be much of an overpay.
AL West Commentary
“As [Angels manager Mike] Scioscia watches the postseason unfold from home, he is hopeful the Angels can have a turnaround similar to that of the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox are playing in the American League Championship Series after finishing last season with a 69-93 record and missing the postseason the past three years.
“Hopefully we’re going to make the adjustments we need to next year to do what Boston did,” Scioscia said. “If you look at what Boston did last year, those guys were buried. They made some incredible moves and had an incredible turnaround and got the team chemistry together and had a great offensive year mixed in with terrific pitching, and we have the potential to do that, and that’s what we’re working towards and hopefully that’s the story we’re talking about next year at this time.” —Arash Markazi at ESPN LA
Baseball Best Practice
“If nothing else, we will consider this book a true success if all thirty teams were to never put a below-average hitter in the second spot. While the proper strategy will only gain you a few runs, why do something that is otherwise clearly wrong?” —Inside The Book
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Buster Olney of ESPN says bidding on Cuba defector Jose Abreu is expected to be for a $70 million deal, sources say. White Sox, Astros, Rangers are viewed as front runners.
Zach Links of MLB Trade Rumors notes that: “Utility man Jeff Baker will be out there on the open market after slashing .279/.360/.545 in a small sample size of 175 plate appearances. The 32-year-old, who offers experience at first base, second base, third base, and the outfield corners, killed lefties in 2013 with an OPS of 1.073.”
Baker has good value as a platoon partner against lefties.
An Offseason Outlook: Minnesota Twins piece by Steve Adams at MLB Trade Rumors takes note of the fact that the Twins need to prioritize adding higher-upside arms than they did last winter. Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Masahiro Tanaka are probably too expensive, but the next tier of starting pitchers could be realistic targets. Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir and Phil Hughes are all relatively young and all carry more upside than arms the Twins have targeted in past seasons. Ricky Nolasco and Scott Feldman could make sense as innings eaters with more upside than Correia as well. If they want to think outside the box, Randy Messenger could be a Colby Lewis-style addition after three very strong years in Japan (Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reported last year that the Twins had interest).
Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that Manny Machado‘s surgery to repair the medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee will take place today. The projected four-to-six-week timeframe for his recovery will have him ready sometime between the beginning of Spring Training and the early portion of April. In that same piece, Connolly writes that Jason Hammel is behind Scott Feldman, Nate McLouth and Brian Roberts on the Orioles’ “priority to re-sign” list. Connolly’s assumption is that Hammel will hook on with another team. I could envision him signing a similar contract to that of Feldman last offseason — one year at $5-6MM with additional incentives based on innings pitched and/or games started.
Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors has done a thorough Free Agent Profile of Josh Johnson, which is well worth a read.
Given his rough 2013 campaign, Johnson is highly unlikely to receive a qualifying offer, so he won’t come with a draft pick cost attached. Dierkes points out that Johnson’s recent elbow surgery could be construed as a positive because, according to Johnson’s agent, Dr. James Andrews told the pitcher he thought the bone spurs [which Andrews removed] were the cause of his struggles this year. The pitcher has interest in returning to the Jays. If a reunion doesn’t happen, pretty much any team could explore a deal, since the risk will be limited to one year.
By the numbers
“Over the last five seasons, the Braves have the best ERA in baseball at 3.44, and did not get past the LDS in any of those years.” The Bill Chuck Files
“Since the expected winning percentage (52.8%) for games after walk offs was almost exactly the same as the actual winning percentage (52.6%), I can conclude that, in general, a walk-off win has no effect over the result of the following game. As cautious as I am about accepting intangibles, this result is still surprising to me. I was not expecting a dramatic effect but I thought that sudden victories would have a small influence over ensuing games.” —Lee Panas at Detroit Tiger Tales
More Jeff Sullivan Chat Review at FanGraphs:
Comment From TKDC: Prince’s homers fell again this year to 25. Last year, they dropped from 38 to 30, but the average distance was about the same. This year, average distance is down more than 10 feet. Would this make you worry more about the chances of a bounce back?
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t know enough about the significance of dinger distance to be able to confidently interpret that data. What makes me worry about the chances of a bounce back is the 35-point wRC+ drop in two years
Comment From Steve: What if we redefined “clutch” to mean ‘A player who plays to his natural abilities during high pressure/close & late situations’? I don’t believe in clutch, but I believe that the ability to be unaffected by those situations isn’t universal.
Jeff Sullivan: I think the working theory is that if you can’t really handle the pressure, you’ll get weeded out somewhere before you reach the major leagues. What you’ll find is that, over a big enough sample, most everyone reaches their career averages or so in pressure situations
Comment From Gila Monster: With a healthy Morrow, Dickey, and Burhle, do the Jays resign J.J. or do they look elsewhere for a FA pitcher?
Jeff Sullivan: Johnson will probably get a better opportunity somewhere else
Comment From Al: Am I the only one who wants the TV to pick up as much Scully as possible if the Dodgers advance?
Jeff Sullivan: What on earth makes you think you’d be the only one who wants more Vin Scully? I think Scully himself has said he doesn’t consider himself a great fit for those national broadcasts.
Comment From SK: Who do you think is a safer bet for 2014: Roy Halladay, Josh Johnson or Bartolo Colon?
Jeff Sullivan: Colon of course because he was just good and the others were just bad.
Comment From Wink: So, how do you think managerial interviews go? Or, what are objective criteria for hiring a baseball manager? We DO seem to believe it matters. We generally feel Maddon and Francona are good at it. a) does the manager matter? and b) how do you decide what makes a good one?
Jeff Sullivan: You go over the manager’s history, you probably present some examples of possible situations to see how they’d be handled, you talk about the organizational plan and figure out if you can be on the same page. You talk about philosophies when it comes to handling young players and deferring authority or not deferring authority to veterans.