Tag Archives: Doug Fister

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mariners

The Deadline in Review

The trade deadline has come and gone and the Mariners were very active.  In case the folks reading this blog haven’t got enough of a fill on reading about the trades, or actually wanted to know our opinions, here’s one more review.  I’ll get right down to it, as straight forward as possible.  (If you want more, all the Mariner websites have some sort of reveiw.  Here’s Lookout Landing’s.  Here’s USS Mariner.  SSI has several posts about the new prospects.)

Trade #1:  What We Lost:

Doug Fister – Of the three players we’ve lost, Fister is probably the most valuable.  The most talented?  I would say no, but he is the most valuable because he is cheap and under team control for several more years.  Fister doesn’t have the best stuff and that gave him the ‘over-achiever’ label.  What he did have was excellent control and the ability to take advantage of good defenses put behind him.  Fister was always intriguing and I always enjoyed him more than Jason Vargas, just because he didn’t have plus stuff to get people out but still held down the number 3 spot in the rotation and was very successful.  Fister could be successful for a long time, I hope he is, or his lack of dominant stuff might catch up to him.  Time will tell, but he served the Mariners well in his 2 years with the big league club.

David Pauley – David Pauley was a solid reliever for most of the year for the M’s.  With that being said, he wasn’t part of the teams future and isn’t much to write home about.  He’ll provide some bullpen help for the Tigers and that was why he was a part of this deal.

What We Got Back:

Casper Wells – Casper Wells is a 26 year old corner outfielder who came up to the Tigers’ big league club last Summer.  In his debut year his OPS was at .901 in 93 at-bats.  This year his OPS is .765 in 117 at-bats. He’s hit 8 home runs in 210 at-bats in the big leagues but has shown good power in the minors.  He is primarily a corner outfielder but can also play center.  His defense will be average in center (maybe a little better) and plus in one of the corner spots.  He was a 4th outfielder in Detroit because they were in a pennant race but he’ll be the starting left fielder here for the remainder of the season.  He could into a a little better than league average outfielder.  At the very least, I think he’ll be a good 4th outfielder.  At the most, the Mariners may have found their left fielder for the next couple years.

Charlie Furbush – I’ll refrain from any Furbush for Fister jokes…. Charlie Furbush is a left-handed pitcher who is being utilized in the bullpen at the moment.  His fastball is 90-92.  He also has a decent slider and throws a change-up.  He has a deceptive delivery which has drawn comparisons to George Sherril. While he is in the bullpen right now, he will eventually see time in the starting rotation.  Furbush’s ceiling is a number 3 starter.  He’s 25 and has played in AAA and with the Tigers this year.

Francisco Martinez – Francisco is a 20 year old who has already made his way to AA.  He has drawn a lot of comparisons to Carlos Triunfel, which I don’t think is very fair.  Triunfel is a 21 year old who is AA but arrived there when he’s 19.  He was injured, fell off many people’s radar and is still in AA (but he’s putting up decent numbers and is still young).  I think it’s an unfair comparison because they speak of Triunfel like he’s a disappointment.  He’s not yet.  Martinez has been in AA for 2 years and has been solid but not spectacular in those stints.  This year he is hitting .282 with seven home runs in the league this year.  He projects to have solid power but so far his plate discipline isn’t great (that’s where the Triunfel comparison comes from).  Francisco could make it to the majors in the next couple years.  He was the 4th ranked prospect in the Tigers system by a few people, which is pretty exciting.

PTBNL – Cool name, huh?  This player will be one the Tigers’ top 2010 draft picks.  We won’t find out who it is until August 20th.  It should be a good prospect though.

Overview of deal:  Losing Fister is a big deal.  He could have been a mainstay in the rotation for a long time.  But, this isn’t like losing a Felix or Pineda.  Fister won’t ever be an ace.  Losing Pauley is not big deal at all.  With these things in mind, I love the return the Mariners got.  Of course, evaluating trades isn’t fair until a couple of years down the road but at worst the Mariners got back a good 4th outfielder, a good lefty reliever, and two interesting prospects.  At best they got back a starting left fielder who will hit 15-20 home runs, a number 3 or 4 starter, a third baseman with some power, and something else.  I like that upside, but I also like the practicality.  Even if things don’t break right we’ll get something out of this deal.

Deal #2 What We Lost:

Erik Bedard – I love Erik Bedard.  He’s the type of pitcher I could watch for days.  He thinks while he pitches and is crafty.  He’s has all kinds of talent and, when healthy, he’s one of the best pitchers’ in the league.  With that being said, I didn’t know how much trade value he had because of how often he is injured.  I’ll miss Erik but dealing him was a no-brainer because he was going to be a free agent and there was no need for him to be here.

Josh Fields – Josh Fields was a former first-round draft pick who is bad.  Really bad.  I don’t know why the Red Sox wanted him.  Maybe someday he’ll put it all together and not walk every other batter but we didn’t lose anything to be worried about there.

What We Got:

Trayvon Robinson – Trayvon came to us via the Dodgers.  He’s a 24 year old who’s been playing for LA’s AAA affiliate in Albuquerque, which is a hitter’s park to put it lightly.  This discredits some of the 26 home runs Robinson has hit this year.  But, it doesn’t discredit them the way many people on the blogosphere are.  He hit 12 of those home runs on the road and Robinson still would be hitting home runs even if he wasn’t in a dumb park.  He swings and misses a lot, but still can take a walk.  Robinson is a center-fielder with a lot of speed.  SSI compared him today to Curtis Granderson and you can see the similarities in their swings.  Trayvon could be a September call-up.  I’m looking forward to watching him play and he could push Guti out of the door.

Chih-Hsien Chiang – Awesome name.  This guy is another outfielder, although he plays in a corner position.  Chiang is 23 and is absolutely killing AA pitching.  He has a 1.046 OPS right now in his second go around in AA.  He has 58 extra base hits on the year and will move up to AAA soon, I imagine.  He doesn’t have a lot to prove in AA anymore.

Overview:  This trade is great.  2 months of Erik Bedard in a lost season or a top-5 organizational talent along with another interesting prospect.  These guys may not work out, but Pete Carrol would be proud of the way Jack Z has built a competition for an outfield position.

All in all, it’s been a great deadline for the Mariners.  Even with all the bad luck the team has had, you have to think that one of these guys in the outfield competition will turn out.

The team has also won the battle for the coolest names dealing Doug, David, Erik and Josh for Casper, Charlie (Furbush), Francisco, Trayvon and Chih-Hsien.  That doesn’t even take into account PTBNL.  That name doesn’t even have any vowels in it.  There’s a chance the player they acquire may be named Chance.  But, if I was Jack Z, I’d just stick with this PTBNL guy if he’s focusing on coolest names.

I know it’s tough to be a Mariners fan right now but Jack Z has done a good job, he’s just run into a city full of bad luck.  I’m sure he wouldn’t use that as an excuse but the guy knows what he’s doing.  By acquiring all of these outfielders, I think he’s starting to try to make his own luck.

Andrew

Leave a comment

Filed under M's Transaction News, Mariners

Ranking Your 2011 Mariners

The big news today is basketball related, with Isaiah Thomas announcing, rather unexpectedly, that he will indeed forgo his senior season at UW. He’s off to the NBA, which sucks for Husky fans. Time will tell whether this is a wise decision by IT, but I’m happy for him. Next year’s expectations will be lower now, and it could very well be our last year watching Terrence Ross, but the team should still be good, and contend for the conference yet again.

With that news, I’m officially closing basketball talk on the blog, until at least the draft in June. Why? Because today is opening day! As Andrew noted, things have been dry on here lately, but nothing like some M’s baseball to stir conversation. In case you have not heard, the 25 man roster is official. Looking over the team last night, I started ranking guys in my mind, and that’s what this post is all about. In addition to ranking the 25 man roster, in terms of most valuable to the team in 2011, I’m also throwing 3 more guys into the conversation: Ackley, Gutierrez, and Aardsma. The latter two are on the DL, and Ackley will probably be up sometime in June, so they belong on this list too.

    Ranking the Roster (Most Valuable to Least Valuable)

1- Felix Hernandez—He is the King of Seattle, and the best pitcher on planet Earth. Yes, Felix is the Mariners’ most valuable player. Go away trade rumors!
2- Ichiro—The team’s best hitter and most valuable everyday player. Also, the coolest Mariner ever.
3- Justin Smoak—I want to fall in love with Justin Smoak, and so does this city, but he has a lot to prove. IMHO, this guy is the lynchpin to the M’s offense in 2011.
4- Franklin Gutierrez—I fear for Guti’s long-term health with every day that passes without an explanation, but assuming this mystery stomach ailment gets treated, Guti is the team’s best defender, and a top 5 hitter, a valuable asset indeed.
5- Milton Bradley—Depending on which Milton shows up, batting 3rd, Bradley could easily lead the team in production this year. But can he stay healthy AND out of trouble? I wouldn’t bet on it.
6- Erik Bedard—Hard to argue that a guy who did not pitch last year could hold much value, but IF healthy, Bedard provides huge value to this team. And IF his spring performance is an indicator of what’s to come, his worth is as high as a #2 starter.
7- Chone Figgins—This guy had better bounce back, and I expect he will now that he’s back at 3rd and settled into Seattle. The M’s should be annoying to play, and Figgy leads that annoyance.
8- Jason Vargas—I still don’t think of Jason Vargas as a #2 starter, but he earned this spot after last season. Can he provide an encore?
9- Jack Cust—Batting clean-up for your Seattle Mariners…Jack Cust. Really? You better believe it! He will strike out a ton, but I gotta think he is an upgrade at DH, and he is an awesome interview.
10- Miguel Olivo—The team’s main acquisition this winter, Miguel can’t be worse than our catchers last season, but he must improve on his first go around in Seattle if he is to win over the fans. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Mariners

Beating The Odds, Part 2

As Dan mentioned in his post earlier today, spring has sprung on the 2011 baseball season.  The Mariners started training camp on Sunday, and we already have stories about Erik Bedard’s loyalty, Felix’s hair, and the return of Ken Griffey Jr.  Not bad for three days.

Not many people expect the Mariners to do much this year.  A .500 record would be a huge accomplishment, and that still might only get them last place in the division.  Luckily, the great thing about spring, and baseball in general, is that it’s easy to dream of everything going right.  Baseball players can be so unpredictable that there is always room to see playoffs in the future.  Does that hold true with a Mariner team that was worst in the league last year and lost two of its best hitters without adding any certain impact players?  Of course it does.

What if Erik Bedard is healthy all season?  He could be the second best starter in the league after his teammate Felix.  And what if Michael Pineda joins the team early and dominates the whole year?  Fister and Vargas might match their early season form from last year, or someone else might surprise, and suddenly the Mariners have one of the best rotations in the league.  It could happen. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Mariners

The Rebuilding Process, Year 3

A couple weeks ago I wrote about Years 1 and 2 of the rebuilding process the Mariners are in, orchestrated by Jack Zduriencik. With year 2 nearing completion, let’s look ahead to year 3 of rebuild mode.

Following this 2010 season, the Mariners will likely find themselves less ahead of schedule than what had been anticipated going into this season. The 85 wins in 2009 will be followed up with something like 65-70 wins. The Mariners do not have much money coming off the books, and their best player from 2009, Cliff Lee, is wearing a Texas uniform at the moment. In some ways, things may look bleak for the Mariners after this season. However, looking again at the big picture of rebuilding in 3-4 years, I think the positives still outweigh the negatives because of the strengthened farm system, the lack of bad contracts, and a strong nucleus that are all signed (Ichiro, Felix, Smoak, Guti).

Rewind with me again to November 2008. The Mariners were a mess, kind of like the Seahawks are today, and similar to Husky football after the Willingham era concluded. In each case, our team needed to blow things up and rebuild. This happens in sports, and typically, rebuilding takes 3-4 years. Of course the Yankees can do it in 1 year, and the Royals or Pirates need about 10 years, but for a Seattle team in a good market, 3-4 years is about the norm. This season it appeared the M’s might be able to take advantage of a weakened division and some savvy trades, and take the shortcut from rebuilder to contender in just 12 months. But 2010 has not panned out, and while it looks like the M’s are going to have to start over again once this year ends, the reality is the foundation for rebuilding was laid a year ago, and Seattle is finishing year 2 of a 3-4 year rebuilding process.

In his “Wait ‘Til Next Year” series, Matthew recently broke down each position, and forecasted the roster heading into next season. Certainly a common theme in these posts is the uncertainty at multiple positions, but despite the question marks, the M’s will continue building around a solid group that will surely include Felix, Ichiro, Ackley, Gutierrez, Figgins, Saunders, Smoak, Pineda, Vargas and Fister. Others from the current roster will be back next year, and some will not, and additions will need to be made, either via trade, free agency, or growth in the farm system. Given how difficult it is to predict trades, let’s look at the unrestricted free agent crop for 2011, and specifically, free agents that may be realistic targets for the Mariners, give their needs. Yes, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Derek Jeter may hit free agency, but again, this list only includes realistic targets, at positions the M’s may have an interest.
Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Mariners

First Quarter Report Cards: Starting Rotation

As Matthew looks ahead to next year in his series, I’m going to look back at the first quarter of the season.  We’re a few games past the quarter point but this seems to be an appropriate time to look back on who has done what.  We’ll start with the starting rotation because that’s the least depressing thing.  Grades after the jump!

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Mariners

Game Recap – 5/14

I didn’t see all of the game and have another post in the works so this recap will be fairly short. 

By all accounts, this was a nice win for the Mariners.  There was solid pitching all the way around and the power surge continued with another 3 home runs tonight. 

Cy Young, err, I mean Doug Fister started tonight and wasn’t as sharp as he’s been lately.  With that being said, Fister pitched 5 innings of 1-run ball and got the win.  The one run that did score, scored on a balk.  The Fistinator walked 3 guys which is way more than normal, but minimized the damage with quality pitches on the corner.  Fister has probably been my favorite part of this season which is really weird.

The M’s scored in the first inning on a 2-run Guti bomb.  He crushed that ball.  They then would play add on with solo shots by Adam Moore and Mike Sweeney.  If you aren’t keeping track, that is Mike Sweeney’s second homer in as many days.  Yesterday before the game started, I laughed at my mom when she said that Sweeney might hit a home run.  Always listen to your mom I guess.

The bullpen shut down the Rays for the most part.  K Tex came in and threw 2 shutout innings and made everyone think, “Maybe this guy should pitch a little more.”  Shawn Kelley gave up a 2-run homer to Longoria but it was a decent pitch and it was Longoria.  That guy is so good.  Aardsma pitched a perfect 9th for the save.

Now for the hero and goat:

Hero:  Mike Sweeney.  There were a lot of guys who could have been the hero tonight but I’m going with Mike.  I’m not picking Sween-dawg because he hit a home run but because he stole a base.  I couldn’t believe Sween-dawg stole a base.  That was his first stolen base in 4 years.  Oh yeah, he’s itting the ball pretty well too.

Goat:  Casey Kotchman.  I didn’t watch all of the game and Kotchman was the “biggest suckfest” on Lookout Landing so I’ll give it to him.

That was a fun game.  Hopefully the rest of this weekend brings a few more wins.  Go M’s!

Andrew

1 Comment

Filed under M's Game Recaps, Mariners

A Tale of Two Miserable Weekends…and some ridiculous stats!

I didn’t think things could get more painful than watching the Mariners give up 3 late game homeruns on route to being swept last weekend in Chicago. All 3 games were 1 run losses, and I remember thinking the M’s should have legitimately taken 2 of 3 in that series. Despite the frustration, those losses were a product of a few hiccups, albeit in consecutive games, by our usually solid bullpen. There wasn’t too much analysis required, and while it sucked to have them happen in a row, that’s baseball. We moved on.

This past weekend, however, had many more layers of dreadfulness. To condense this mess, I’ve bulleted 5 events that were pretty unbelievable (not in a good way), and another 5 RIDICULOUS facts that may require reading with a puke bucket by your side…

  1. Sweeney’s double play: When a walk, sac fly, base hit, or really anything past the infield would have won the game, Mike swung at the 1st pitch from Darren O’Day, a slider low and away, and ended the bases loaded threat in the bottom of the 10th on Friday. Although I must say, none of this surprised me.
  2. Byrnes whiffed bunt: This oddity captured the short Eric Byrnes era well. With the bases juiced just one inning after Sweeney failed in the same situation, Wak called on Byrnes to just make contact on a bunt attempt. I liked the call because asking Byrnes to not strike out or pop it up to an infielder is a tall task. Still, he failed…and then struck out for good measure.
  3. Bradley’s blown pop up: Many say Milton just gave up on this play, while some argue the sun got in his eyes. Regardless, this ball needed to be caught, because it allowed 2 runs to score with 2 outs after Felix had fought back from bases loaded and none out.
  4. Aardsma’s blown save: For the 2nd consecutive game following 8 dazzling innings by “Can’t buy a break Fister,” Aardsma surrendered a lead-off walk, then after a stolen base and a base hit, the game was tied, the save was blown, and Fister was given another no decision. I’m scared every time Aardsma enters the game and starts firing fastballs. This past week reminded me why I have this fear, despite his league leading 8 saves.
  5. 2 passed balls in 1 inning by Rob Johnson: Perhaps the previous events are explainable, but this one is not. Andrew touched on “Hips” and his lack of catching in his recap from yesterday’s game, so I won’t ramble. This tweet from Dave Cameron pretty well sums it up-

    “Rob Johnson had as many passed balls in 1 inning yesterday as every non-Mariner AL team has all season.”

What is especially disappointing about all this is that if ANY one of these scenarios hadn’t happened, the M’s would likely have won the game. But it all happened, and as the wheels came off, it was like watching a bad horror film that started off decent, turned frustratingly unrealistic, and ended up humorous. The snowball of unfortunate events that overcame this team could not be stopped, and this team was coming up with new ways to blow games.

And now, grab your bucket… Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Mariners