Mariners Mini Morsels: November 8

Too bad Rihanna no longer comes in that deal.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports thinks the Dodgers could help the Mariners with their outfielder problem, he may be right. As he writes, “For comparison’s sake, the three Dodgers outfielders on the trade market combined for a 5.4 WAR (Crawford 2.9, Ethier 2.9, Kemp -0.4) while earning a combined $53.5 million. Kemp, who appeared in only 73 games, recently underwent surgery on his left ankle. His value obviously is down. But some rival officials say the Dodgers are more eager to move him than Ethier or Crawford. Not that any of it will be easy. Kemp is owed $128 million over the next six years, Crawford $81.5 million over the next four, Ethier $69 million over the next four.

Clearing a contract would create additional flexibility as the Dodgers seeks to sign left-hander Clayton Kershaw and infielder Hanley Ramirez to contract extensions. The team’s more immediate concern, though, is filling needs. A starting pitcher, infielder, setup man and lefty reliever all are on the L.A. wish list. General manager Ned Colletti will need to be creative, but it’s not as if he’s embarking upon mission impossible. Think the Mariners wouldn’t love to get Kemp? Think the Mets couldn’t find a spot for Ethier? Heck, those are just two examples. It’s not as if the free-agent market is bursting with superior options.”

He has point.


When the 13 players who received $14M, one-year qualifying offers were announced, one general manager immediately quipped, “at first there were three players who I thought might accept the offers—Curtis Granderson, Nelson Cruz, Kendrys Morales—then I thought about it and realized that was ridiculous. All three of those players have power. This isn’t 2004. Corner power, especially right handed corner power, has become so rare that anyone that has it is going to reap the benefits of the fact that the industry is awash in cash.” —Peter Gammons at Gammons Daily 


So they said

“Pitching’s the name of the game,” McClendon said. “If they pitch well, you’re going to love me and probably give me the keys to the city. And if they don’t, you’ll be kicking my butt out of town.” —Greg Johns at


Sources: GMs to talk about plate collisions “Yes! Good to hear. I’ll give you an X-ray to show them.” —Johnny Bench


“Ricky Nolasco’s career ERA+ is 94, according to Baseball-Reference. So he’s a below-average pitcher. $80 million? Why the heck not?” —Jon Paul Morosi at Fox Sports


Mariner’s potential off-season targets

Neil Weinberg, writing for Gammons Daily, thinks Josh Johnson is worth the several-million-dollar gamble. I think he’s right.  His case: “The Toronto Blue Jays decided not to make Josh Johnson a qualifying offer this week The Jays know his current medical condition better than anyone and are certainly capable of reading the market. Josh Johnson isn’t going to get a big contract this offseason. He’s looking at a one-year deal with a base salary around $7 or $8 million with some potential to earn more through incentives. That’s what the market looks like for Johnson and that’s the kind of risk you should take every chance you get. The Pirates took that risk last year by betting on the frequently injured Francisco Liriano and it paid off.

“The concern about Johnson is that he’s going to shatter at the drop of a resin bag, but his market is clearly depressed enough that the financial risk is minimal and the potential payoff is huge. Johnson could be a strong number two for a contender or a trade chip for a team looking to restock. The worst-case scenario is obvious, but even very conservative projections expect him to be worth several million dollars next season. Johnson’s probably never going to be an ace again, but one bad year and a few big injuries have led to a serious under valuation. Josh Johnson doesn’t deserve to get the Zack Greinke contract, but he’s also much better than the contract he’s about to sign.”


Scott Kazmir (LHP Indians – Age 30): Left for dead after giving up five runs in 1 2/3 innings in his lone appearance for the Angels in 2011, Kazmir’s comeback was one of the pleasant stories of last season. Inconsistent early on, he was at his best down the stretch, posting a 3.38 ERA and an 82/17 K/BB ratio in 72 innings after the break. In September, he had a 43/4 K/BB ratio and allowed just one homer in 28 innings. Health is a big question mark going forward, so it’d be awfully risky to sign him to a long-term deal. That finish, though, should land him a contract worth about $10 million per year. 2013 stats: 10-9, 4.04 ERA, 162/47 K/BB in 158 IP. —Matthew Pouliot at Hardball Talk


Baseball Best Practice

The best example of how data has changed the game is the death of the sacrifice bunt. There were fewer sacrifice bunts per game this year than in any season in recorded baseball history, and the bunt’s demise has been a quick one. The rate of sacrifice bunts has dropped 30 percent just since 1993. In 1982 under Gene Mauch, the first-place Angels executed 114 sacrifice bunts — 54% more than any team in the American League. You are not going to find such an extreme outlier any more. The team that led the AL in sacrifice hits this year, Houston (46), had exactly one more sacrifice bunt than the team that ranked second, Texas. —Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated 

By The Numbers

Go back to 2004, the last year before drug testing was implemented. The average major league team scored 779 runs and hit 182 home runs. In 2013, the average team scored 675 runs and hit 155 home runs. Peter Gammons at Gammons Daily 


The number of 120-pitch games has dropped from 498 in 1998 to a record-low 69 this year. —Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated 


Dustin Ackley played 53 games at second base without an error in 231 total chances. He committed one error in 59 games in the outfield, including 50 games in center field, in 136 total chances. The club went 25-21 in the 46 games he started in center field after transitioning to the outfield in midseason. —Greg Johns at


Chat Review: Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs

Comment From Marty: Where do you see Ellsbury landing? Is Seattle the favorite based on what you’ve heard?

Jeff Sullivan: Let me put it like this, I don’t think the Mariners are going to sign Ellsbury, but I think the Mariners are the most likely individual team to sign Ellsbury. Need’s there, money’s there, willingness to overpay is probably there.


Comment From dan: What do you see as the floor of what Ellsbury signs for and what do you think he will sign for?

Jeff Sullivan: As a “floor”, maybe 6/$100. I think he signs for more like 6/$120


Comment From Ian: How should someone with Jacoby Ellsbury’s skill set be expected to age?

Jeff Sullivan: Fairly normally, probably a little slower than average. He’s got a lot of skills and athleticism so there’s no one thing on which he entirely depends. I think people tend to exaggerate the significance of profile-specific aging curves.


Comment From Daniel Carroll: Should the Mariners even bother picking up an FA pitcher, or just throw all of the young arms out there and see what happens?

Jeff Sullivan: They should get a guy, and I think they will