Mariners Mini Morsels: November 2 (afternoon edition)

Stephen Drew, 30, has been above average at defense and at taking free bases in recent years.

“Plenty of old biases remain alive and well. Prince Fielder can fetch $214 million because there will always be someone willing to (over)pay for home runs and RBIs. Meanwhile, defense remains underrated, batting average overrated — to name just two misguided stances. We haven’t had time to go through this year’s free-agent crop yet. But if you want to find the bargains of 2014, look for under-30 players who play good defense, are coming off ugly seasons by traditional metrics, and have some history of strong performance two or three years ago.”  —Jonah Keri at Grantland

 

AL West Commentary

The first order of business for the Angels this off-season will be their own free agent, Jason Vargas. With the World Series over, the Angels hold an exclusive, five-day negotiating window with the 30-year-old left-hander, who has averaged 10 wins, a 3.97 ERA and 190 innings over the past four years. Typically, though, players who reach free agency wait the extra five days so that all teams can bid and the price can go up. The Angels aren’t expected to tender Vargas the $14.1 million qualifying offer, mainly because they’d be too close to the luxury-tax threshold if he were to accept it, and they can’t afford to overpay.

We’re certainly interested in having him back,” [GM JerryDipoto] said. “But there’s no certainty when you’re this close to free agency. Really what we need is organizational starting pitching,” Dipoto said. “We need starting-pitching depth, we need options from within. We need young, controllable starting pitching.” —Alden Gonzalez at MLB.com

 

“Reliever Joe Nathan and outfielder Nelson Cruz are foremost among the Rangers‘ immediate priorities now that the World Series is over and free agency has begun. The Rangers have much to do this winter as they try to put together a team that can compete for the American League West Division title and more in 2014. The ultimate goal of winning a World Series has not changed for a team that has averaged over 90 wins in each of the last five seasons, and getting a grasp on what’s going on with Nathan and Cruz is the first step. The Rangers’ payroll was at $125 million in 2013. It could go higher if needed in 2014, but probably won’t go soaring.” —T.R. Sullivan at MLB.com

 

So they said

“This latest, sad chapter in Mr. [Alex Rodriguez]s tarnished career is yet another example of this player trying to avoid taking responsibility for his poor choices,” Manfred said. “Given the disappointing acts that Mr. Rodriguez has repeatedly made throughout his career, his expressed concern for young people rings very hollow. Mr. Rodriguez’s use of PEDs was longer and more pervasive than any other player, and when this process is complete, the facts will prove it is Mr. Rodriguez and his representatives who have engaged in ongoing, gross misconduct.” —Rob Manfred, MLB’s chief operating officer at ESPN New York

 

“At least A-ROD waited, this time, for the Series to end before resuming his accusations against MLB”. —Jason Churchillof Prospect Insider

 

“Friday morning, Ben Cherington, Mike Hazen, Allard Baird and likely others were already working the phones on free agents. Scott Boras had already planted dozens of stories about the 11, 15 and 37 teams, foreign countries and Tea Party handlers that had called him about his clients, and with the industry flush with cash, everyone was full in on The Season of the Which.” —Peter Gammons at Gammons Daily 

“It’s entirely possible that the Jays are a pretty good team hiding inside a terrible season.” —Jonah Keri at Grantland

 

“Even in the wake of a regular season that saw the fewest average runs per game since 1992, the lowest league-wide batting average since 1972 and the highest strikeout rate in history, the absence of offense (generally, from people not named David Ortiz ) this October was incredible.” Anthony Castrovince at MLB.com

 

Mariner’s potential off-season targets

 “Ubaldo Jimenez is no dummy. After seeing Tim Lincecum get $35 million, Jimenez said thanks but no thanks to the Indians after they exercised their half of the $8 million option for 2014, thereby becoming a free agent. Jimenez had a nice bounce back year for the Indians. Going 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA in 32 starts. Whether that was a fluke or a return to form for Jimenez — who was putrid in 2012 and whose 2011 wasn’t anything close to his best years prior — is an interesting question. All of his rate stats and peripherals went in the right direction, so there is hope. But, yeah, it could have been a fluke. Regardless, in this day and age pitching gets paid. And Jimenez stands to make way, way more than that $8 million the Indians were, in essence, offering him. They will probably give him a qualifying offer of $14 million or so today, and he will have to decide if he wants that. My guess is he says “nope” and takes a multi-year deal. Because really, outside of the Masahiro Tanaka derby, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana, there isn’t a ton of pitching to be had on the free agent market.” —Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk

 

Chris Capuano, 35, pitched to a 4.26 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 105 2/3 innings for the Dodgers this season. While his role with the club was uncertain early on, injuries opened up a rotation spot, and 20 of his 24 appearances for the Dodgers wound up being starts. A .334 batting average on balls in play shows that Capuano was the victim of some poor luck, and his FIP reflects that, projecting that his ERA should’ve been closer to 3.55. —Steve Adams at MLB Trade Rumors

 

Bartolo Colon (RHP Athletics – Age 40): This one will be fascinating. Colon finished second in the AL in ERA last season, not to mention second in wins. He was also quite good in 2012 before he got slapped with a 50-game steroids ban. However, Colon is 40, he has a modest strikeout rate and he’s benefited from pitching in Oakland with a strong outfield defense behind him (though his home-road splits are essentially even the last two years). Tim Lincecum just got $17.5 million per year after being half of the pitcher Colon was the last two seasons (statistically and physically). In this market, wouldn’t Colon be worth $20 million or more on a one-year deal? I’m not sure he’ll end up getting more than half of that, though. 2013 stats: 18-6, 2.65 ERA, 117/29 K/BB in 190 1/3 IP.” —Matthew Pouliot at Hardball Talk

 

Baseball Best Practice

“The shift is on. Defensive shifts for pull-happy hitters have been a part of the game for decades. But in recent years, shifts built on advanced data and spray charts that allow teams to adjust and account for just about every type of hitter have become more and more of a fixture on the Major League field.

The Pirates’ stunning success this season, which led to a win in the NL Wild Card Game and an NL Division Series against the Cards that went the distance, might move the needle even further, for it was in large part attributable to the Buccos’ regular reliance on the shift strategy. The Pirates ranked third in defensive runs saved this season in large part due to their shifts, which, thanks to the input of analyst Dan Fox and the adaptation by Clint Hurdle and his staff, more than quadrupled in quantity from 2012 to 2013. Not everybody is buying into the concept (Cards manager Mike Matheny has said he’s seen it make his pitchers feel uncomfortable), but the trend is rising. And this is one way in which front-office input is having a more profound impact on in-game strategizing. Just another way in which the job of the Major League manager is evolving.” —Anthony Castrovince at MLB.com

 

By The Numbers

Boston’s 6-1 victory in Wednesday night’s clincher was seen by 19.2 million viewers, baseball’s highest rating since Game 7 of the 2011 World Series. —ESPN

 

Not since 1989 have we seen such a high percentage of swings and misses (25.4 percent) on the postseason stage, and never in postseason history have we seen a lower percentage of pitches put in play (17.3). —Anthony Castrovince at MLB.com

 

An ESPN poll asked readers who they favored in the MLB vs A-Rod confrontation. 79% back MLB. —ESPN

 

Alumni News

The Rangers announced, via press release, that they have claimed right-hander Chaz Roe off waivers from the Diamondbacks. The 27-year-old Roe was selected by the Rockies with the 32nd overall pick in the 2005 draft, but he didn’t make his Major League debut until this past season with the D-Backs. The Rockies traded him to the Mariners for Jose Lopez, and Roe signed with Arizona after being released by Seattle. —Steve Adams at MLB Trade Rumors

 

The Diamondbacks claim Tigers OF Matt Tuiasosopo. —Bob Nightengale at USAToday