Tag Archives: Jack Wilson

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

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The Mariners Obvious Moves

Note- I started writing this over a week ago, but I don’t think anything has happened since then to change anything.  Consider it an indirect response to Joe’s earlier payroll post, although I didn’t originally intend it that way.

Coming into the offseason, everyone agreed that improving the Mariners to the point of playoff contention was a long shot.  Crazy things happen, and Jack Zduriencik has done crazy things before, but to improve the team that much with a very limited budget didn’t look like it would be in the cards.

What was apparent was moves that could be made.  Coming into the offseason, here’s what I would have laid out as the obvious moves I would look at if I were in Jack’s spot:

  • Find a DH with some power
  • Look hard for an upgrade at catcher
  • Find a middle infielder who could start at second and then shift to short when Dustin Ackley is ready or Jack Wilson gets injured
  • Find a right-handed bat who could platoon with Michael Saunders and ideally play some first base if needed
  • Find a starting pitcher who could be counted on to throw a lot of decent innings
  • Upgrade the bullpen Continue reading

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Your 2011 Mariners- Shortstop

Shortstop is currently in the worst shape of any position on the Mariners roster, outside of maybe catcher.  There’s a bright star in the minors, but the next couple of seasons are going to require some creativity if Jack Zduriencik wants to improve the position.

Shortstop

On the Roster

Jack Wilson– Wilson brother #1 will receive $5 mil. in the last year of his contract.  I don’t even know what else to write.  I can’t see any way they could trade him at all, much less get any salary relief or anything good in return.  He can’t stay healthy, and if he is on the field, he can’t hit.  He’s still a slick fielder, if not quite at his previous level.  The Mariners hope has to be that he’ll revisit the retirement thoughts he had briefly this season, but that’s pretty doubtful as well.  Despite all that, I’d say the odds are 50-50 that he’s the opening day shortstop.

Josh Wilson- This is so depressing.  Wilson #2 is pretty much like #1, giving away some defense for durability.  I guess I might prefer Josh to Jack, but does it really matter?  At least he’s cheap.

In the Minors

Nick Franklin– Finally, some hope.  Franklin, a 19-year-old 2009 first rounder, put together a huge season at Low-A Clinton this year to jump into the discussion of the top shortstop prospects in the minors.  Viewed as a switch-hitting baseball rat with a good bat but little power, Franklin proved all that true expect the power.  He started hot and ended with 23 homers and a .485 slugging percentage.  His defense doesn’t sound elite, but it shouldn’t be an issue to stay at the position.  He ended the year at Double-A to help out in the playoffs, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he stayed there in 2011, skipping High-A altogether.  There’s been talk that he’ll be in Seattle at some point next season, but that’s pretty premature.  Not impossible, but I’m not planning on anything before 2012, and even that might be too soon.  He’s entering just his second full season in the pros and has issues to work on with his swing from the right side, but his future is extremely bright.

Carlos Triunfel– Carlos, the perpetual prospect.  I’m not going to rehash his whole story, so here’s the short version: been around forever because he started playing at 17. Looked like a mega-star in the making. Injuries and a lack of production have taken the tarnish off.  Has great contact ability, but can’t take a walk and the power hasn’t come around.  Not likely to stay at shortstop long term.  Still time, as he’s only 20 and lost a whole year to a badly broken leg, but he needs to show big improvement this year or the system’s going to pass him by.

Analysis

Not too be too dramatic, but the situation’s pretty dire.  Ideally, the team would find an average stop-gap they could sign for a decent price who would fill in until Franklin is ready.  Basically, what they tried to do with Jack Wilson.  I thought Hiroyuki Nakajima, a Japanese star, might be that guy, but reports differ on how good he is, if he can play short in America, and whether he’ll even be posted for major league teams.  Otherwise there aren’t a ton of options.  This position needs a massive upgrade, but I just don’t know if it’ll happen.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they go with the Wilsons again for next year until Jack’s contract expires, but I’m sure they’ll look everywhere possible for an upgrade first.  Jack Z., our prayers and hopes are with you.

-Matthew

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Ian Snell DFA’d and Losing Trades

If you’ve followed the Mariners today, you’ve probably heard that Ian Snell has been designated for assignment.  It’s about time.  Ian Snell has been terrible the past couple years and was even worse this year.  Now, he’s gone and Brian Sweeney is up (more on him in a little while).

Ian Snell came over here last Summer in the Jack Wilson-Jeff Clement trade.  It seemed like a good idea at the time; Snell was a young starter who possibly needed a change of scenery and Jack Wilson was the shortstop who was going to captain the world’s best defense.  It hasn’t really worked out, to say the least.  Jack has been hurt more often than not since coming here and Snell has been terrible.  That leads to the obvious, and somewhat annoying, question, “Did the Mariners lose this trade?”  These questions usually rub me the wrong way.  This is because we are fans on the outside and the people who sometimes proclaim the trade as lost don’t know as much about the organization as they should.  Lets take a look at this example:

  • One team received a double-A starter who has a 5.92 ERA in 11 starts this year.  He is running out an 8.4 K/9 innings rate, which is really good but not much else seems to be going for him.
  • The other team received a shortstop who has been starting at the major league level.  This guy is hitting .281 and, although he has one of the worst UZR’s in the league, has a pretty solid fielding percentage.

Which team wins that trade?  Well, obviously the team with the shortstop right?  No.  That shortstop is Yuniesky Betancourt.  This is just one of many examples that show a trade can not be judged by an outsider without organizational knowledge.  The double-A pitcher I refered to above is actually a decent prospect.  His name is Dan Cortes and if he ever gains some control he could be in the majors.  Yuni sucks.  People don’t know these things when looking at stats, they only know them after reading scouting reports and watching them.  I think the Mariners made themselves a better organization by this trade even if Yuni is putting up solid numbers.  Can the same be said with the Royals?  I don’t know.  I don’t know enough about the Royals to make a fair judgement.  My first reaction would to be say no because of my experience with Yuni but that’s not fair to their front office.

So, back to the trade with Pittsburg last summer.  No, the Mariners did not win this trade.  Jack could come back and be a decent contributor this year and next but it’s probably not enough for me to say that this trade made the Mariners a better organization.  But did it make them worse?  Clement is hitting no better than Kotchman, .189, and has been moved out of the starting lineup.  Ronny Cedeno could put up the greatest numbers in the world and I wouldn’t regret trading him away.  Like Carlos Silva and Yuni, Ronny Cedeno wasn’t going to work in Seattle.  So, no I don’t think the Mariners lost this trade.  Clement could suddenly get better, he definitely has the brightest future of all of these players, but it sure doesn’t look like this will happen. 

Maybe no one won that trade.  It’s easy to see where both front offices were coming from in making the move.  So don’t think that this was a terrible move.  Jack Z wasn’t Bill Bavasi bad in this move.  He was just average, which is worse than usual with our GM.  It’s nice to say that.

A few more notes concerning this after the jump.  Continue reading

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Mariners Weekend Recap — 5/29-5/30

Some games feel bigger than the one W or L that they represent on the schedule. When the M’s win in dramatic fashion on a Saturday night in front of 40,000 at Safeco, it seems odd that that win means just as much as a 10 am weekday win against Kansas City, in front of 11,000 fans. Likewise, a loss like yesterday kind of feels like 10 losses, rather than just one. The fashion in which the Mariners blew a 7-2 lead in the 5th inning yesterday, although not surprising based on how this year has gone, left me feeling frustration that should be reserved for only the most painful, playoff losses; not a regular season game in May.

I should be talking about a Mariners team that is miraculously just 5 games out of first place today. The M’s should have won yesterday, and should have won Saturday. The streak of horrible weekend games should have come to a halt, but alas, the M’s lost on Saturday and Sunday, providing further proof that while good teams find ways to win games, Seattle finds ways to lose them. Thus, they are not a good team. I have so many thoughts, opinions and observations from this weekend series because I saw every inning, and both games had so many layers. Rather than recap both games in typical style, I think I will just bullet point the good and bad that stood out.

The Depressing Stuff:

  • Ian Snell pitched well through 3 innings, but then I jinxed him by noticing this, and his control went haywire. I’m sure Snell will be gone at the end of the season, if not before then, and with Jack Wilson on the shelf and probably never returning to his old form, it’s probably accurate to say we lost that trade with the Pirates. I would have done it myself, and the trade won’t set the organization back much, but Jeff Clement at least has some potential, whereas Snell and Wilson don’t appear to.
  • Felix pitched well enough to win on Saturday, 8+ innings of 1 run ball, but the M’s offense was MIA and Brandon League showed again an inability to keep the ball in the park when it matters most.
  • On Sunday, Jesus Colome and Kanekoa Texeira pitched the 5th and 6th innings, and despite yielding just 2 hits, neither pitcher had much control. Of the 40 pitches they threw, 25 were balls. 4 walks were issued, plus a catcher’s interference, and suddenly the Angels had scratched out 3 runs off 2 singles, and the score was 7-5 heading into the 7th. This felt like the turning point in the game.
  • Yesterday, David Aardsma entered the 9th with a 1 run lead. The odds of winning may have been 75%, but in reality, it felt like a 50/50 game at this point. Aardsma had Matsui struck out on a full count, but the ump called it a ball, which was a horrible call. Once Matsui walked, I felt things slipping away. Rivera proceeded to crush a ball that somehow stayed in the yard, but it felt like a foreshadow of things to come. A fluke infield hit followed, and the wheels were coming off. Kendrick then blasted a fastball (of course) the other way and the game was over. But back to why things never feel safe when David Aardsma enters the game…

    The fact is, Aardsma usually has decent control, but everyone knows he will throw a 93-96 mph fastball about 90% of the time. If that pitch is not located perfectly, it’s a meatball. There really isn’t any deception to Aardsma’s pitching. The hitters just have to sit dead red, make a nice swing, and hope the ball lands in a good spot. Effective closers need not have 3 great pitches, but if he chooses to throw 1 pitch 90% of the time, it had better be a great pitch. Aardsma’s fast ball is not a great pitch, especially if it is not properly located. Aardsma will continue to get hit well for this reason, and sometimes the ball stays in the park or he gets lucky with a ball hit right at someone, but a lot of time the outcome is what we witnessed yesterday. It’s just really frustrating, but really, who didn’t expect him to regress this year? His true colors are showing. Aardsma depends on location and luck, and often one or the other fails him. He seems like a really cool guy though, for what it’s worth.

  • Our 3rd base coach is awful. I talk to Andrew about this often, and yesterday’s send of Wilson was his worst of the year. Base coaches are like referees in that if no one is talking about him, he is probably doing a good job. We have talked about Mike Brumley way too much this year, thus, he is doing a bad job.
  • Saturday and Sunday has not been kind to the Mariners this year. Seattle is 3-13 in weekend games, including 6 straight Saturday losses, and currently the team has won just once in its past 13 weekend games. In their 13 losses, 6 have been walk-offs, and 9 have been the crushing loss type, whereby the M’s were either tied or leading in the 8th inning.
  • 9 times the M’s have given up a walk-off hit. Conversely, Seattle has just 1 walk-off hit this season.
  • The Mariners are 0-6 in extra inning games this year.
  • Only 3 teams in baseball have a worst record than the M’s.

    Do I enjoy digging up these stats? Actually, no. I don’t drink alcohol, but this team brings me closer each weekend!

    Positive notes, plus hero and goat after the jump Continue reading

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    The Worst Case Scenario? Pretty Close…

    Following the ridiculous 6-5 loss to Baltimore on Thursday, I was listening to Brock and Salk on 710 ESPN, and Dave Cameron from USSM was on the show. Cameron said the pre-season likelihood that the M’s would have finished the first 34 games at 13-21, would have been about 7-10%. This number is not a scientific fact, but anyone who knows a thing about baseball can look at the roster Seattle assembled, paired with the weak division they play in, and conclude that a 13-21 start would have been tough to imagine. Is this the worst case scenario? Well, of course it’s not the absolute worst case. That would be a winless team with multiple injured starters, a manager soon to be fired, and a clubhouse that is fist fighting. But this is pretty close to the worst possible scenario I could have thought up back in March. Here are 5 reasons why the M’s are where they are. (And sorry, this gets a little lengthy)

    1) Bad luck (aka sucking in crunch time)
    Last year, the M’s made hay in 1-run games. Despite giving up more runs than they scored, the M’s won 85 games, which by most standards, was an anomaly. The odd that Seattle could have racked up 85 W’s last year was slim when the year began. It was a pleasure seeing my team hang on in close games and show grit time and time again. This year, the Gods have not been so kind in similar games. In fact, in 9 of Seattle’s 21 losses, the M’s either led or were tied going into the eighth inning. That is a staggering result. If the Mariners could have won even just 4 of those 9 games, we would be talking about a 17-17 team heading into the Tampa series. The worst part is that in most cases, one minor miscue has been the difference between a win and a loss. The Byrnes whiffed bunt. The Johnson passed balls. The poor execution of bases loaded in extra innings. Those are the type of missed opportunities that has defined this team through 35 games. If you care to look at just how those 9 gut wrenching games played out, take a look at the quick summaries Shannon Drayer put together-http://www.mynorthwest.com/category/mariners_blog_articles/20100513/Too-Many-Tough-Losses

    2) Slow start offense
    In addition to the close losses, the Mariners are not hitting. Figgins, Kotchman, Griffey, Lopez, Bradley, Moore, Johnson and Jack Wilson are all off to slow starts. Typically you assume a few regulars will start slow, but it’s hard to win when all but 2 starters are hitting around .200 or lower. The offense is without a doubt the biggest reason the M’s are sitting where they are.

    3) The Bullpen
    The Mariners have a solid bullpen. I’d bet as many as 4 of our relievers could be closers on some major league teams. But despite good overall stats, some untimely blow ups have resulted in numerous losses. Lowe, League and Aardsma have combined to give up 6 home runs. That’s not the astounding number though, as 6 home runs between 3 relievers in mid-May is not unreasonable. What is astounding is that all 6 of those home runs were either game tiers or game winners, and all came in the 8th or 9th innings. Ouch. Often times home runs are not all the pitchers fault, because even perfectly executed pitches can be hit 400 feet by major league hitters. A lot of the bullpen’s failures are just plain bad luck. That’s just baseball. The bullpen is not a major concern for this team.

    4) Off the field issues
    The Bradley fiasco and the Griffey nap have been the two biggest off the field incidents thus far. The Milton thing was almost to be expected, considering his past, while the Griffey thing has snowballed from a minor issue to headlines on ESPN. That whole thing is just weird. You could include injuries in this category I suppose, to Cliff Lee, Mark Lowe, and Jack Wilson.

    5) Inconsistency
    The problem with this team is similar to the problem with my golf game. If I’m driving and putting well, my irons and chipping are failing me. If my short game is on, my drives are erratic. For the Mariners, the offense, starting pitching, and defense was great on Thursday. The bullpen was not, and so despite playing well in 3 out of 4 facets of the game, that one poor area bit us hard. It seems like that’s how it has gone all year. We just can’t play well in all aspects, and even when we play well in 2 or 3 areas, the 1 that we suck at ends up costing us the game.

    Reason for hope after the jump! Continue reading

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    Game Recap — 5/11/2010

    Nothing like seeing Baltimore on the schedule to cheer up a blue Mariners fan. They are really bad. And yesterday, we looked really good. It appears the team is rallying around the Griffey story and if that’s what it takes to come together, then I’m all for it.

    The quick analysis is Cliff did his thing, the Tacoma bats continued their hot hitting, and the M’s took care of business in efficient fashion. Speaking of those Tacoma bats, Langerhans, Wilson, and Saunders combined to go 5-11 with a homer, 2 RBI, and 9 total bases. I especially love seeing Michael Saunders play well, because left field is a position of need for the M’s. If his early success continues, we may look back and point to his call up from Tacoma as the turning point in this season.

    Cliff Lee is fun to watch. I love his first pitch strikes. I love how fast he works. I love that he doesn’t walk batters. I love his cool demeanor. I love you Cliff. Now, please engage in the following conversation, because I’ve had this dream a couple times already.

    Jack Z: Hey Cliff, thanks for coming in, take a seat.
    Cliff: Whats up?
    Jack Z: Well, I noticed your contract is up at year’s end and, well, let’s see if we can’t figure something out to keep you a Mariner a little while longer.
    Cliff: Hmm, I usually don’t do this type of thing mid-season, but I sure love being part of baseball’s best 1-2 punch. Awe heck, let’s bang something out.
    Jack Z: Perfect. How about 3 years, 52 million.
    Cliff: That is generous, but 55 million has a better ring to it. Deal?
    Jack Z: Deal! Now, excuse me while I go get you some bats. I hear Mauer is available, let’s see what Minnesota thinks of Rob Johnson.

    Then I wake up from my dream.

    Some more quick notes and hero/goat after the jump! Continue reading

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