Author Archives: dpscansen

About dpscansen

I'm just a mid-20's guy who cares about faith, family, and sports. I do my best to keep it in that order...

2016 Mariners-Crown Em’

Besides being humans and playing baseball for the Seattle Mariners, can you think of something in common between Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager, and Seth Smith? This group are the only Mariners that will take part in the opening day ceremonies next week that did the same last year with the M’s. The other 18 men were not on the M’s opening day roster in 2015. A lot can, and has, changed in the past few months for the Mariners and many other teams around the league. Though I would imagine a 72% overhaul of opening day rosters from one year to the next is higher than league average, by a considerable margin. If I had the time I’d like to know if it ranks as the most changed roster, which it well may. It’s all to be expected when a new manager and general manager are brought in, as is the case with Seattle. But is all the change a good thing? Time will tell, but in this case, I think it is.

A year ago I couldn’t go a day without reading a new predictions tweet or article that had the M’s in the World Series. It was all a bit surreal. This year, most pundits see the M’s extending their 13 year postseason drought another year. This makes sense given how 2015 played out, to say nothing of the prior decade. But aside from expectations, there is good reason to think the M’s actually look a good bit better today than April, 2015. Below are how the opening day rosters compare. The 18 new faces all have a player they are essentially replacing, as the chart shows. As for the impact column, that is my opinion whether the current player is an upgrade (+), downgrade (-), or no real change (o).

2015 2016 Impact
James Paxton Wade Miley +
J.A. Happ Nate Karns o
Danny Farquhar Nick Vincent +
Charlie Furbush Mike Montgomery
Yoervis Medina Joel Peralta o
Tyler Olson Vidal Nuno +
Fernando Rodney Steve Cishek o
Carson Smith Joaquin Benoit o
Tom Wilhelmson Tony Zych o
Mike Zunino Chris Iannetta +
Jesus Sucre Steve Clevenger +
Logan Morrison Adam Lind +
Brad Miller Ketel Marte +
Willie Bloomquist Luis Sardinas +
Dustin Ackley Nori Aoki +
Austin Jackson Leonys Martin +
Justin Ruggiano Franklin Gutierrez +
Rickie Weeks Dae-Ho Lee +
Felix Hernandez Felix Hernandez o
Hisashi Iwakuma Hisashi Iwakuma o
Taijuan Walker Taijuan Walker +
Robinson Cano Robinson Cano +
Kyle Seager Kyle Seager o
Nelson Cruz Nelson Cruz o
Seth Smith Seth Smith o

There are dozens of variables and caveats to an exercise like this, and we can differ on opinion, but I see the M’s upgrading in 14 spots this season, downgrading in 1 (though Furbush is still on the roster), and staying even in 10. Each spot is a case by case assessment but in general I’m looking at the performance of the 2015 player versus the reasonable expectation/projection of the 2016 player. Let’s dig in a little further.

Starting Pitching
The rotation is deeper and projects better in 2016. Felix is Felix, no reason to expect he won’t be an ace and in the thick of Cy Young contention. A year ago Paxton broke camp as the #2 starter, this year he is healthy but in Tacoma. Not many teams have a #6 guy like James, who still has a high ceiling. Wade Miley was brought in to replace Iwakuma, but then Iwakuma returned after all, which was a bonus. Taijuan returns to the rotation and is poised to build off his rookie campaign. Tai was terrible in April and May last year, but found his rhythm in the summer. Happ for Karns feels like a wash for 2016 but Karns will be a key piece for years to come.  Few may realize he actually started the third game for Tampa Bay last year, and was a key piece of their rotation all year. Thanks to retaining Kuma and adding Miley, I think the rotation is significantly improved.

Bullpen
There’s no disputing the bullpen is the biggest question mark. I won’t try to convince anyone that the pen will be good, but honestly can it be worse than last year? I don’t know that it can and I like Dipoto’s strategy of completely overhauling the pen and bringing in a heap of arms which will sort itself out as the season goes. I wouldn’t be surprised if the M’s give 15+ guys a chance in the pen this year. Whether the depth is any good is TBD but there are reinforcements if a couple guys get hurt (Scribner, Cook, Furbush) or potentially suck. Last year few alternatives existed, which is a huge reason why the bullpen went from bad to disastrous. Cishek and Benoit will go a long way in determining the success but I feel a little better about the bullpen with Vincent’s acquisition today. The bullpen can’t be worse and maybe it isn’t a ton better, but ’16’s version looks poised to improve on ’15.

Lineup
Gone are LoMo, Brad Miller, Austin Jackson, and Ackley. In are Lind, Marte, Leonys, and Nori Aoki. Gimme that 4 for 4 trade any day! Beyond the areas of change, the lineup, at least at present, does not look to have a black hole (Zunino is in Tacoma). Seager, Cruz, Cano, and Seth Smith are all back, and while Cruz may not match last year’s incredible season, Cano is finally healthy and I imagine Seager and Smith will continue their career norms as above average players. I have some worries about this lineup, given the offensive woes that seem to haunt the M’s, but on paper it looks league average and capable of 4 runs/game.

Bench
Say goodbye to Rickie Weeks, Ruggiano, Sucre, and WFBloomquist. They’ve been replaced by Dae-Ho Lee, Gutierrez, Steve Clevenger, and Luis Sardinas. Again, anyone not willing to take that 4 for 4 trade? Seems like a no brainer. The bench will be better, quite significantly in my opinion.

Defense
The theme of Dipoto’s offseason was constructing a roster built for Safeco Field. That hadn’t happened in a long time. To do so, Jerry brought in guys who get on base and can field their position, above average in most cases. Aoki and Leonys are instant upgrades to the outfield, which had been a glaring weakness during the Jack Z era. Marte isn’t flashy but he makes all the plays you’d expect at short stop, something that cannot be said of Brad Miller. Sardinas is a terrific defender, WFB is not. The defense is vastly improved.

Depth
MLB is a 162 game season, so depth is pretty important. Jack Z learned the hard way that you can never have enough pitching and catching. Dipoto is all about accumulating guys who can play in the majors, particularly if they’ve tasted some success. You need depth, so in addition to the 25 guys who will take the field in Arlington next week, there had better be a plethora of other options. Paxton, Zunino, Taylor, Romero, Blash, O’Malley, Furbush (DL), are all still in the organization and can step in. You also have Daniel Robertson, Boog Powell, Efren Navarro, and Rob Brantly, plus another 5-8 bullpen candidates (Roach, Parker, Guaipe, Aro, De Fratus, Scribner, Cook) . Last year, that sort of depth simply did not exist, particularly in the bullpen and at catcher.

To recap, I feel better about all areas of the 2016 Mariners as compared to last year. Most fans probably feel the same about their team, hope springs eternal and all that. But last year’s team won 76 games, so it will take a big jump forward to be in playoff contention. The rest of the AL West, mid-season acquisitions, how Servais adjusts to managing, and of course injuries, slumps and so many other factors will help determine how the season shakes out, but the Mariners should not be bad. In fact, they should probably be good.

Dipoto makes some tasty Kool-Aid, and I’m drinking it. Crown em’.

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2014 AL West Team

To be quite honest, creating a “Preseason All AL West Team” is a futile exercise.  If you are looking for an MLB season preview, full of sound analysis and predictions, this isn’t it.  But I’m a visual learner, and there is some value in seeing where the power is in the division, position by position.  Of course this isn’t an exact science, no predictions are, and only 2 players are selected per position, so you have a guy like Kyle Seager, the M’s second best position player, not making this list thanks to Beltre and Donaldson.   So ya, take this for what it is.  A quick snapshot of the division headed into 2014.  Although I should point out, by forecasting who has the most 1st and 2nd teamers, I correctly guessed the order of finish in the division last year!

My selection process looks at last year’s performance as well as projections for the upcoming season, and anticipated playing time. Some of the picks are obvious and others are less obvious, so of course I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

2014 AL West Team

Taking the visualization one step further, here’s a super scientific bar graph intended to show the separation between teams, by awarding 2 points for a 1st team selection, and 1 point for a 2nd team selection.

2014 AL West Graph

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by | March 15, 2014 · 9:05 pm

The Mariners Offseason I’m Hoping For-blueprint to a realistic, and successful winter

There are 3 things I am a complete sucker for in sports, and each are a bit irrational. First, the NFL Draft, man I love that. Second, the high school state football tournament. I still write up a bracket and project the whole thing. And finally, MLB hot stove rumors. This time of year is a gold mind for hot stove rumblings, bloggers playing general manager, and ridiculous trade ideas are littered on twitter. And yet, I can’t keep away from it, I love it all. It is in this vein that I’d like to construct a Mariners offseason plan, though in a way that I hope is not redundant to what you’ve seen. I should also point out that I will do my best to put forth a somewhat realistic plan, meaning, you won’t see Robinson Cano, a trade for Cliff Lee, or any free agent who clearly wants to play for a contender. There are many offseason plans circulating online that offer up fantasy plans, if that’s what you’re looking for. (cough…Lookout Landing…cough)

What To Fix

–          Offensive Production

–          Outfield Defense

–          Middle of the Rotation

–          Back End of Bullpen

–          Middle Infield Depth

How to Do It

Acquire 1 top tier free agent; 2 trades that obtain MLB talent; 2 middle tier free agents; 2 low cost signings; and 2 minor league deals with invites to spring training

–          at least 2 starting outfielders

–          starting pitcher who can be plugged in at 3 or 4 in the rotation

–          established set up or closer

–          backup infielder that can fill in at 2nd, SS, or 3rd base

–          backup catcher

Considerations

–          Projected payroll of $90-95 million

–          The Untouchables are Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Kyle Seager

The $92 Million Plan

Sign 1 top tier free agent, the candidates-
C-Brian McCann, Jarrod Saltalamacchia; SP-Masahiro Tanaka, Matt Garza, Ricky Nolasco, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana; OF-Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Curtis Granderson; 1B/DH-Mike Napoli
The move-
Sign OF-Jacoby Ellsbury to 7 year, $140 million contract

2 trades that obtain MLB talent, the candidates-
CF-Matt Kemp, Dexter Fowler, Peter Bourjos; DH-Billy Butler; C-Matt Weiters; 2B-Brandon Phillips, Daniel Murphy; SP-Rick Porcello; RF-Matt Joyce
The moves-
Trade Nick Franklin to Detroit for Rick Porcello
Trade Yoervis Medina and $ to Oakland for SS/2B-Eric Sogard

Sign 2 middle tier free agents, the candidates-
C-Carlos Ruiz; SP-Scott Feldman, A.J. Burnett, Bronson Arroyo, Scott Kazmir, Josh Johnson, Jason Hammel, Paul Maholm, Jason Vargas, Phil Hughes, Bartolo Colon, Dan Haren; RP-Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour, Brian Wilson, Joaquin Benoit, Fernando Rodney; OF-Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran, Chris Young, Jhonny Peralta, David Murphy; 1B-Corey Hart; SS-Stephen Drew; 1B/DH-Kendrys Morales
The moves-
Sign 1B/DH-Kendrys Morales to 3 year, $33 million contract
Sign Chris Young to 2 year, $12 million contract

2 low cost signings, the candidates-
SP-Scott Baker, Chris Capuano, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito, Edinson Volquez, Ted Lilly, Gavin Floyd; RP-Joba Chamberlain, Chris Perez, Edward Mujica, LaTroy Hawkins, Matt Thornton, Jose Veras, Oliver Perez, Jesse Crain; SS/2B-Ramon Santiago, Clint Barmes, Brendan Ryan, Willie Bloomquist, Mark Ellis, Alexi Casilla, 2B/3B-Ryan Roberts, Placido Polanco; C-A.J. Pierzynski, John Buck, Kurt Suzuki; 2B/OF-Kelly Johnson; 1B-James Loney, Justin Morenau, 1B/3B-Mark Reynolds, Kevin Youkilis, Michael Young, Juan Uribe; 2B/OF-Skip Schumaker; OF-Nate McLouth, Franklin Gutierrez, Rajai Davis, Reed Johnson; OF/DH-Raul Ibanez, Delmon Young, Jason Kubel, Luke Scott
The moves-
Sign Franklin Gutierrez to 1 year, $2 million contract w/ incentives
Sign Kurt Suzuki to 1 year, $2 million contract

2 minor league deals with invite to spring training, the candidates-
Too many to list!
The moves-
RP-Joel Hanrahan, SP-Colby Lewis
2014 M's

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2013 AL West Team

Unlike some college sports, pro sports don’t come out with pre-season 1st and 2nd teams, but if the AL West had its pre-season team, this is how I think it would shake out. Clearly this is not a perfect method to predicting the AL West in 2013, and by season’s end the 1st and 2nd team selections will look different. But, it does provide a snapshot of how the division stacks up. My selection process looks at last year’s performance as well as potential this upcoming year, and projected impact/playing time. Some of the picks are obvious and others are less obvious, so of course I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

2013 AL West

A couple bullets:

  • It is hard to find much separation at the top between Oakland, Texas, and LAA. All 3 have playoff potential, but from this breakdown I would also suggest the Mariners are closer to the good teams in the division, rather than the bad (Houston).
  • Say what you want about Oakland’s 2012 season being an anomolye, but it’s hard to criticize the roster Billy Beane has been assembled this year. The A’s don’t have a lot of star power but they are solid at every position, and have a ton of depth, which will surely be an asset at some point.
  • The positions that were hardest to find a clear cut 1st and 2nd team selection were Catcher, DH, and the 2nd team OFs and Starting Ps. At catcher, Montero projects to have the most playing time and potential, so I gave him the honors. You could make a case for Jaso and Pierzynski too. The same is true between Kendrys Morales, Berkman, and Trumbo, but the numbers suggest Morales (when healthy) is the best option in the group. David Murphy is a nice player, as is Coco Crisp, Franklin Gutierrez, and Chris Young. Take your pick, I went with Murhpy. Starting pitching was a bit of a toss up to when you start picking the 8th-10th best in the AL West. I tried hard to justify an Astro but simply could not. Iwakuma was my 10th selection, but it could have easily gone to Derek Holland, Jason Vargas, or really any Oakland starter.
  • In order to visually quantify the separation between teams based on these picks, I’ve awarded 2 points for a 1st team selection, and 1 point for a 2nd team selection. Here’s how it shakes out on a fancy bar graph.

    graph

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Happy 2013

Happy New Year! 2013 is a little odd for me because it reminds me that I’ve been out of high school for a decade now. It’s probably about time I move on. Ya right! On the other hand, I am welcoming 2013 with open arms. I’ve patiently waited for 2013, and if you’ve read this blog the past couple years, you may have seen my occasional 2013 references. So what’s all my excitement over, you ask? Well, in December of 2011 I had an epiphany about the year 2013, which was that ALL 5 Seattle teams (the ones people care about), could be in position to make a run at a championship.

I surmised that the UW football team, fresh off a Holiday Bowl win, would be entering year 5 under Coach Sark, and opening up new Husky Stadium, led by senior QB Keith Price. The Mariners would be in year 5 under Jack Zduriencik, and the young nucleus he was building would be established. Coming off a promising 1st season with Pete Carroll, I figured the Seahawks could be in position to really contend in a couple years, so long as they found a franchise QB—check! Lastly, the UW basketball team, and Sounders FC (entering its 5th season), are seemingly always a threat to have a special season, so across the board 2013 was, and is, looking bright. It even crossed my mind that it might be the year the NBA returns, which it could be.

A large part of my optimism stems from the fact that for the first time in a long time, there appears to be stability with all 5 of our teams. In fact, every coach and GM has been on his respective Seattle team for 2+ years. I doubt many cities can say that, and what it means is that none of our teams are in a true “rebuilding” situation. There is reason for hope with all our teams, though now that 2013 is upon us, I can safely eliminate the Mariners and Huskies from winning it all this year. Still, could all our beloved teams have a winning season, or perhaps make a playoff run? Absolutely. Or, dare I say it, could 2013 be the year a championship is won in Seattle? If not this year, there’s always next year.

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by | January 2, 2013 · 11:30 am

The Rebuilding Process, Year 5

One year ago I asked your reaction following Prince signing in Detroit. One year later, I’m curious what your take is on Josh Hamilton signing with a division foe, for nearly $100 million less than Prince got.

This is my 5th installment in a series of posts I’ve done recapping and forecasting the Mariners Rebuilding Process, since Jack Z took over as GM. You can find the prior posts here: Years 1 and 2 Year 3 Year 4

Let’s recap the 5 year rebuild plan I laid out in October 2008.

    THE BLUEPRINT

2009, Year 1: Shed dead weight, Begin overhauling the farm
Summary: Traded Putz for Guti, Carp, Vargas, and managed to get rid of Silva, Betancourt, and Johjima, while also using 3 of first 5 picks on Ackley, Franklin, Seager.
Grade: A+

2010, Year 2: Shed dead weight, Continue building the farm (and lock up Felix)
Summary: Signed Griffey and Sweeney, locked up Felix and acquired Cliff Lee, then swapped him for Smoak. Could have done without the Morrow trade and of course the Figgins contract. Selected Walker, Paxton, Pryor in rounds 1, 4, 5.
Grade: B-

2011, Year 3: Bring the youth up, Evaluate potential, Acquire more young talent
Summary: Hired Wedge, traded for Brendan Ryan, picked up Wilhelmson at a local bar, and signed low cost vets such as Cust, Olivo, Kennedy. Fielded an even mix of youth and vets, but loads of young talent in the pipeline for the first time in forever. At the deadline traded Fister for Furbush and Wells. Hultzen chosen with #2 pick.
Grade: B

2012, Year 4: continue youth movement, achieve .500 record
Summary: Swapped Pineda for Montero and made some shrewd acquistions in Jaso, Iwakuma, Luetge, Millwood, Perez, then saw a young roster come up 6 games short of .500, while improving by 8 games from prior season. Picked Mike Zunino #3 overall.
Grade: A

2013, Year 5: add 1-2 big pieces, contend for playoffs
Summary: Thus far we’ve seen a few low cost signings in Bay, Ibanez, Bonderman, and a 1 for 1 swap of Vargas-Morales.
Grade: ???

I’ve said this before, but in 4 1/2 years on the job, Bill Bavasi set this organization back 5 years, minimum. Last year I stated

“For the first time on Jack’s watch, I think the on field W/L record is important. .500 ball is a reasonable expectation this year, which would be a welcomed site for our eyes.”

Well, The M’s flirted with .500 in 2012 and showed noticeable improvement, albeit without much offense yet again. Entering year 5 the talk of laying the foundation and replenishing the system should be over, and playoff contention ought to be close. Zduriencik has said as much if you’ve heard any of his recent interviews.

If the blueprint holds form, the M’s will be adding 1-2 big pieces this offseason, and assembling a playoff capable team in 2013. This sounds great but it is nearly January and almost all the big name free agents have signed elsewhere, and the only acquisitions Seattle has made are Robert Andino, Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez, and a swap of Jason Vargas for Kendrys Morales. Not exactly blockbuster moves capable of propelling the M’s from 75 wins into contention. I suppose the big moves we hoped for are still possible if Jack can, for example, land Justin Upton and Michael Bourn, and add a veteran pitcher to round out the rotation. That would certainly be a competitive team, but is that the best route to take?

Given how the AL West is shaping up, it may be best to hang onto the prospects, add a couple decent pieces, and shoot for a respectable 80-85 wins in 2013, while waiting until next year to make the big splash. I don’t see a scenario, at this point, for the M’s to overtake Texas or Anaheim in 2013, and probably not Oakland either. So why go all in? I’m not suggesting Seattle give up any hopes they had for next year, just because the division rivals are pulling away, but I don’t want the M’s to mortgage the future to field a better team next year, but one that cannot be sustained.

Keeping a positive trajectory is crucial next year, seeing an improved offense is also important, but that’s about all we can reasonably expect in 2013. This puts real contention off until next year, and adds a year to the original 5 year blueprint, but taking the path that leads to sustained success is what is most important. We’ve seen the Washington Nationals do this, and Tampa Bay also, and with much less money. It may not be popular, given the fractured fan base, plummeting attendance, and a decade of bad baseball, but Seattle has never given a player a $100 million contract, and unless it is a Felix extension, I don’t see it happening for at least another year. And surprisingly, I’m fine with that.

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The Schedule and 1 Impressive Stat

My biggest pet peeve with college football is not the lack of a playoff system, the absurd Pac 12 referring, or even Oregon fans. I don’t like any of those, but far and away I most detest the inconsistencies related to scheduling, which often makes it difficult to evaluate teams. I could go on and on about this, as most of us can when we get to talking about our pet peeves, but I’ll try to keep this concise and get on to the Husky talk.

For starters, we’ve seen how a Boise State team can beat 1 good opponent and 11 nobodies, and back into a BCS game. Or how about Notre Dame, currently ranked 3rd in the country, despite playing 6 of its first 7 games at home, and having just 4 road games total! As for our rival, Oregon, well they managed to not step foot on another school’s campus until their 7th game of the season. Meanwhile, UW has had to go through murderer’s row, but folks (media included) generally ignore this stuff because we prefer to look at a team’s W-L record and decide how good they are. That works in most sports, just not college football. You see, the Huskies are 1 of 13 FBS teams with s 5-4 record,  but our schedule through 9 games has been historically brutal, a factor that ought to be weighed. And weigh it we shall!

Consider this. In games 2-8 this season, 5 of the Huskies 7 opponents were ranked top 10 in the country. If that’s not crazy enough, another foe in this stretch was a night game in Tucson, and we all know how that went. Thank God the Huskies won 2 of those games, otherwise we’d be sitting at 3-6 and fans would be calling for Sark to be fired. Again, fans look at records, which I understand in a bottom line business, but to form reasoned opinions you have to look at the whole picture. When 66 BCS conference schools play just 12 games each, and each school gets to pick 3-4 of these games, records can get pretty misleading. The Huskies are 5-4, but give Sark the schedule that the other dozen 5-4 teams have, and we might be talking about a 7-2 or 8-1 team, and a top 15 ranking. That’s pretty dang annoying to me.

My point is this, we are starting to talk about a team that could go 8-4, and at this point there’s probably a 40-50% chance UW wins 9 games total in 2012, despite that unprecedented 7 week stretch. I’ll be ecstatic if this happens because the program will continue its upward trajectory in the Sark era. We all know Rose Bowl talks can’t happen until the gap closes with Oregon, and until the Huskies learn how to play decent against good teams on the road, but still, 8 or 9 wins (with this schedule!) just 4 years removed from 0-12 would be awesome.

Finally, and somewhat unrelated to this rant about scheduling, as I was watching the ugly game vs. Cal on Friday, I started thinking how much trust I have in Sark when the game is close. I decided to see what Washington’s record is in games decided by 8 points or less (a 1 score game), in Sark’s 4 years. I discovered an impressive stat, which is that after starting 2-5 (remember those brutal losses in year 1 at Notre Dame, ASU, UCLA!) since then, the Huskies are 10-0 in games decided by 8 or less. 10-0! You’ve probably heard this Husky team called inconsistent, but actually this team is consistently good at home, consistently good in close games, and consistently awful on the road. It’s about as simple as that, except not really. When evaluating Sark, the Huskies, et cetera, remember to weigh these factors, and remember that the Cougs lost to Colorado at home. That happened, and it ought to cheer you up daily.

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