Category Archives: Y2010M!

Information on players from the 2010 Mariners

Y2012M!

Last March, Matthew started a series called “Y2010M!” (standing for Your 2010 Mariners).  It provided the reader with information on players from the 2010 Mariners.  It seemed like a logical thing to do at the time.  The Mariners were supposed to be good, and there was more optimism in Seattle than there had been in quite a while.  This season didn’t work out though.  Frankly, Y2010M’s suck.  In fact, you probably don’t want to call them yours.  I don’t want to call them mine.  While next season will certainly be a little better, it can’t get much worse, it isn’t something that we should be extremely excited about.  Playoff chances will be slim and the casual fan probably won’t enjoy watching as the young players progress next season.  On the plus side, the Mariners could have about 3 legitimate candidates for Rookie of the Year.  Because of that reason, I am led to 2012.  The Mayan’s aren’t the only ones predicting big things that year.  Unlike the Bavasi years, there is actually hope in the future now.  Z has put good prospects in the system and the future looks much brighter than it did when he took over.  Yes, I know the future doesn’t make the present any more bearable, but at least there’s some hope.  So, lets take a way too early look at your 2012 Mariners.

Starting Rotation
The starting rotation is the place where we know the least about so I’ll start there.  Obviously, you have Felix as your ace.  I don’t need to say anything about him because he’s awesome and everyone should know it.  Then, almost as certain, we have Mr. Pineda.  Pineda is a top 3 prospect in the Mariners system and is a top 30 prospect in baseball.  He is better than everyone in Seattle’s rotation right now, aside from Felix.  No one’s a safe bet, but Pineda is about as close as they come.  He is one of those rookie of the year candidates.

After Pineda, it gets a little blurry.  There’s Vargas and Fister, who are very solid back of the rotation guys.  I think Vargas stands a better chance to still be around in there just because he has better pitches.  That’s not to say Fister isn’t capable.  He could be a very good 5th starter.  That leaves the 2nd, 3rd, and/or 4th spot in the rotation open (assuming Felix is the ace, Pineda is either the 2nd or 3rd starter, Vargas at 4th or 5th, and Fister maybe at the 5th spot).  So, who will fill either one or two spots?  I wouldn’t be surprised to see an innings eater (like a Kevin Millwood) added via free agency.  But, there are several options in the system.

Ryan Rowland-Smith has been much better in Tacoma lately but I wouldn’t count on him.  Same goes for Luke French.  There’s Mauricio Robles, who has more upside than both of those guys but has a longer way to come.  Robles was acquired in the Washburn trade and has the upside of a 3 starter.  He’s a short little guy who throws pretty hard and is left-handed.  He has high strikeout rates but also has high walk rates.  If he can learn to control his stuff, I think he’ll be in the rotation at some point.  If not, he may be moved to the bullpen.  Nick Hill was once highly thought of but he’s struggled this year.  There are also this years draftees but counting on the starters by 2012 isn’t a very good bet.

The 2012 rotation will depend on the emergence of Pineda and the ability to sign or trade for a veteran.  If Pineda is as good as we think, the rotation could be quite good.

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Y2010M! Chone Figgins

(Y2010M! stands for Your 2010 Mariners! and is a series of posts aiming to touch on every player possibly important to the Mariners’ season.)

For the better part of a decade, the Angels have dominated the AL West.  They’ve endured major personnel changes, a stream of seemingly terrible contracts, and the confusion of changing the location in their name without changing the location of the team.  They owe this dominance to a lot of great players obtained by both those terrible contracts and a steadily excellent farm system, but equally important is the identity they’ve formed as a franchise.  The common description for the Angels is “annoying”.  They do whatever is necessary to win, which means they win a lot of games they seem to have no business winning.  They usually have a couple of stars and few weak points in the line up, good to excellent pitching, and an undeterrable focus on the small things: base-running, defense, manufacturing runs.  Led by one of the best managers in baseball in Mike Scioscia, they play baseball “the right way”, which means that no matter what adversity a new season brought, they still managed to come out on top.

No player came to exemplify Angel baseball more than Chone Figgins.  He was always on base, ran like crazy, played everywhere on the diamond; he was in the middle of every rally and big play.  Vlad Guerrero was the big bat Mariner fans feared, Figgins was the one he was hitting in.

This year, Figgins is a Mariner.

It’s easy to proclaim Seattle signing Figgins to a four year contract as a changing of the guard in the AL West.  Seattle is building a team along the Angels blueprint, and LA looks weaker than at any point since they started their run of dominance.  With any luck, the Mariners will win the division and the Angels will finally succumb to injuries and age.  We’ll see.  Until the Angels don’t win, they deserve the benefit of the doubt.  It’s possible Figgins loses a step and a tick of bat speed and plays in only 100 games like 2007 and 2008 and the Angels plug the hole and keep winning.

But putting aside the metaphorical symbolism, Figgins is a huge add for the Mariners.  My uncle, a more casual Mariner fan, asked me about him this weekend, and I told him he might be the biggest offensive addition for any team in the league this year.  The reason: Figgins is always on base.  He led the league in walks (101) and was among the leaders in on-base percentage (.395), which is typically space reserved for guys with a little more power.  The biggest key to scoring more runs?  Having people on base.  Once on the bases, he runs like crazy, with 42 stolen bases last year.  2009 was a definite career year, so a downturn should be expected, but I wouldn’t expect it to be significant.  He’ll bat second behind Ichiro, a decision that has drawn attention and some criticism this spring.  Many argue that the team would score more runs with Chone drawing a walk to get on first and then Ichiro advancing him with a hit, rather than Ichiro hitting his way on and Chone then walking.  The current configuration likely will cost a few runs from instances where Figgins would be on second and an Ichiro single would drive him in, but as Dave Cameron pointed out, Figgins being on first during one of Ichiro’s infield hits would cost Ichiro the hit a lot of time, because it would be easier to get the fielder’s choice on Figgins.  We’ll just say it’s a wash and leave Ichiro to what he does best.

Hopefully the two of them will run wild whatever order they’re in, and the guys behind them will drive them in with some regularity.  Whether that happens or not, a guy who is constantly on base will be a nice change from the free swinging, low on-base guys the Mariners have had in recent year.  It’s worked for the Angels, so maybe it will work for the Mariners.

Happy Opening Day!

-Matthew

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Y2010M! Ian Snell

Ian Snell is hard to figure out.  Snell came up through the Pirates system and broke into the league in 2004.  He was used sparingly in ’04 and ’05 and then was added to Pittsburg’s rotation in 2006.  That year Snell had a 14-11 record despite his 4.74 ERA (and a slightly lower 4.58 FIP).  The next year his wins took a hit (as to be expected when you play for the Pirates) but his ERA and FIP were a very respectable 3.76 and 4.01.  Snell was on his way up.  He missed a lot of bats with his above average slider and assortment of other pitches.  He was young and only supposed to get better.

Then 2008 happened.  Snell’s ERA jumped all the way up to 5.42 (although his FIP was at 4.57) and his record fell to 7-12.  The struggle continued through the early part of 2009.  Snell had a combination of bad luck, bad fielding behind him, a lack of control, and a loss of confidence.  Everyone could see that he still had good stuff but he left pitches up in the zone which caused a raise in his fly ball %.  He started giving up too many doubles and home runs.  All of this ended up in Pittsburg sending Snell down to the minors for a spell (where he responded by striking out 17 hitters in one game) and then trading him to the Mariners as a part of the Jack Wilson trade.

Snell was mediocre in his starts with the Mariners.  He always produced swinging strikes but often got hit hard because of the ball being up in the zone.  This trend has continued throughout this spring. 

So the question is, “Can Ian Snell become a valuable starting pitcher for the Mariners?”  He will start the season in the rotation, barring injury, and will be counted on to produce a good start every fifth day.  A couple things will need to happen for Snell to get back to a quality 3 or 4 starter for the Mariners.

  • His fastball must get better.  No one questions Snell’s good slider but his fastball, which sets the slider up, has become suspect.  Over the past 4 years his fastball velocity has slowly decreased.  And over the last two years Snell threw the fastball a higher percentage of times than in his solid ’06 and ’07 campaigns.  Seattle Sports Insider  (who took a look at all the starting pitchers in that link) made the observation that his fastball seems flat and lifeless.  For a guy with a fastball that is 89-91 mph, this is bad news.  Movement is needed for his fastball and right now it seems that he doesn’t have much of it.  If Snell is to become a good pitcher his fastball has to become better.  That or he has to locate it much better, which leads me to my next point:
  • Snell has to get the ball down in the zone.  In 2007 Snell’s ground ball to flyball ratio was 1.23.  Last year, his ratio was at .96.  By no means is Snell a ground ball pitcher (and we saw last year that flyball pitchers in Safeco can work) but with this bad of a ratio comes too many home runs and doubles.  Leaving pitches up in the zone combined with a mediocre fastball is a recipe for disaster.  If Snell can keep the ball down his fastball becomes less of a liability and then he can get to his stellar out pitches.  (Not only does he not keep the ball down, he doesn’t throw enough strikes.  Control is a problem and if he could figure that out, Snell could be much, much better).
  • He needs to get better against lefties.  Snell’s platoon splits are drastically bad.  Because his slider isn’t a very effective pitch against lefties, Snell has no above average pitch against them.  His fastball doesn’t tail away from lefties, which is a way many right-handed pitchers get lefties out.  His change-up is an okay pitch, which could be efficient against left-handed hitters.  His splits last year were quite a bit better than 2008 which is a direct correlation to a 5% increase in change-ups thrown.  If Snell’s fastball gets better and his change-up is used more than his splits won’t be near as bad. 

As you can see, this comes down to Snell’s fastball and control.  If he somehow rediscovers one of these things he’ll be a decent pitcher.  If he rediscovers both of these things he could be a good pitcher.  Unfortunately, this is a lot to ask.  I like Snell and I like his upside.  Z believes he can be a good pitcher so that’s enough for me to believe at the moment.  But he needs to show improvement quickly or else he’ll be replaced in the rotation once Lee and Bedard (hopefully) return.  If Snell becomes the pitcher he was in 2006 or 2007 the Mariners would be that much closer to a very memorable season.

Andrew

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Y2010M! Mike Sweeney

(Y2010M! stands for Your 2010 Mariners! and is a series of posts aiming to touch on every player possibly important to the Mariners’ season.)

Geoff Baker is claiming today that, barring some unexpected pitching moves to deal with the Lee injury (13 man staff?), Mike Sweeney has made the opening day roster.  This will likely come at the expense of Ryan Garko and has commentors throughout the blogosphere gnashing their teeth and proclaiming that this clearly shows the team has no intention of winning this season. Count me as one who really doesn’t get it.  Get the gnashing of teeth, that is.  Sweeney on the team makes total sense from my viewpoint.  Sure, Sweeney and Griffey at DH again is not what anyone wants, but barring a trade for someone clearly better, Sweeney sure seems like the best option we have.  This team is not going to hit that much.  I think they’ll hit better than some are expecting, but they still need every bat they can get. Continue reading

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Y2010M! Matt Tuiasosopo

(Y2010M! stands for Your 2010 Mariners! and is a series of posts aiming to touch on every player possibly important to the Mariners’ season.)

From the shores of the Pacific Islands to the Mongolian Grill in Woodinville, the name Tuiasosopo rings with peals of grandeur.  Any occasional local football fan knows that dad Manu played for the Seahawks, and first son Marques (maybe my favorite Husky of all time) is near the top of a long list of excellent Husky quarterbacks.  Some of his feats of greatness: Rose Bowl win, the first 300 passing 200 yard rushing game in history, and beating Miami in one of the most exciting games I’ve seen at Husky stadium.  Middle son Zach was a solid Husky fullback and linebacker, and cousin Trenton a serviceable linebacker who just graduated.  The sister (Lesley?) even starred for the volleyball team, if I remember correctly. Continue reading

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Y2010M! Adam Moore

I just bought a copy of the Maple Street Press Mariners Annual, edited by USS Mariner’s Dave Cameron and featuring a whole bunch of writers from local blogs and newspapers.  Everything I’ve read so far is great, and it’s fun having all my favorite local writers under the same cover and hopefully making a little bit of money.  Art Thiel has a piece on Griffey in particular that was excellent.

Jon Shields of Pro Ball NW has a long piece in the annual detailing the Mariners’ struggles to develop a good catcher.  Trading Varitek and striking out on Ryan Christianson and Jeff Clement and a myriad of others has led to the probability of Rob Johnson as your 2010 starting catcher.  Catcher is a tough position to project and understand, so a lot of analysts just write it off a little bit.  Determining how important catcher defense is and how to calculate who is good on defense seems to be outside the realm of most metrics so far, at least that I know of.  And yet, teams are willing to take a catcher who can’t hit if he’s good on defense.  Further complicating things is the pitch calling issue.  It’s confusing.  And so we end up with Rob Johnson.

Rob Johnson starting means I’m cheering hard for Adam Moore.  Moore reportedly has solid, if unspectacular, defense, and unlike Johnson, he can hit.  Not like Joe Mauer, but like one of those catchers you hear about and go, “Hey, he’s a pretty good hitter,” and maybe you see them in an all-star game or two, but you don’t really know that much about him because mostly he’s a good hitter for a catcher but not if he were playing somewhere else.  Maybe he won’t hit much at all.  And maybe he’ll still be a good catcher without hitting.  I don’t really know.  All I know is he’s the Mariners only hope for a catcher who can hit without going outside of the organization, which means he could be one of the most important players on the roster for next five years.  A good hitting catcher who plays solid defense is a huge step toward a pennant.

-Matthew

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Y2010M! Rob Johnson

I, like many other Mariner fans and writers, don’t really understand the enigma that is Rob Johnson.  He’s lauded for his defense, and yet he drops pitches and can’t block them and generally seems like a fairly bad defensive catcher.  Save for about two weeks last summer, he’s given no indication that he’ll be even an average offensive catcher.  His one skill that draws raves from teammates and coaches is his pitch calling, but it’s hard to know how true that is and how much it helps.  Talk radio show hosts point to catcher ERA, and maybe there is something to that, but I have a hard time believing there’s anything to that stat (I’m sure I’ll have a good rant on that sometime in the next few months).

Then we went to Mariners Fan Fest and saw a little Q & A session with Johnson and David Aardsma and I think Tui, and I understood the attraction a little better.  He just inspires confidence.  He acts like he’s supposed to be there and appears to be one of those take charge types who everybody loves because he’s just a cool guy.  Which is admittedly what I’d want in my catcher if I were a pitcher.  And yet, he’s not really good at most other baseball skills.  He’s also coming off surgery on both hips, which can’t be good for a catcher. 

So, what are we to do?  I’m hoping, save some crazy improvement from out of nowhere by Johnson, that Adam Moore hits so well at some point early in the season that they have to start him, making Johnson the backup, and a surprisingly good one at that.

-Matthew

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