Tag Archives: Mauricio Robles

If I Were Jack Z

Happy Free Agency! I am a sucker for hot stove talk, MLB trade rumors, and general off season gossip. I get the feeling this could be an eventful winter for the M’s, and I am thankful that Jack Z will be calling the shots once again. That being said, I thought I would speculate on some potential moves the M’s could make over the next few months, and in doing, I’ve created my off season plan.

Before delving into the plan, let’s remember where the M’s are in, and the state of the franchise. 2012 will be the 4th year of Jack Zduriencik’s regime in Seattle. He inherited a major rebuilding project, no doubt about it. Top to bottom, the organization was a mess. For 3 years, Jack has concentrated on bulking up the farm, adding depth, and above all, talent. It took a couple years to shed the dead weight—bad contacts, bad draft picks, bad hires, and despite a couple setbacks (Chone), most fans understand the path the organization is on. It’s not as though losses don’t matter, but the record is not as important as the master plan, and Jack has not deviated from building the whole system, which is really the only way to sustain success. Even the Yankees and Red Sox, for all the money they throw around, build from within as good as anyone, and this has been Jack’s focus all along.

In 2012, wins and losses will matter. The grace period is gone, and the M’s had better start producing. A .500 record should be a reasonable goal, so considering the 2011 M’s won 67 games, where does Jack find an additional 14 wins this off season?

Let’s assume the M’s payroll is set at $90-95 million, which is on par for the past 3 years. $60 million is already guaranteed for Felix, Ichiro, Guti, Ryan, Ackley, Figgins, and Olivo, so Jack will have about $30 million to fill out the roster. Next, Jack will need to address the M’s 6 arbitration eligible players: Kelley, Vargas, Aardsma, L-Rodriguez, and League. If I were Jack, I’d non-tender Aardsma, but keep the others, for what will cost about $10 million total. Some would prefer to keep Aardsma, and trade League, but the money is virtually even between the two, and I think you need to keep one. League was an all-star closer, despite his brain lapses, so unless the trade market is high for a guy like League, I’d hang onto him. Finally, another $5 million will be tied up in about 10 spots, the kids like Smoak, Carp, Seager, and most of the young relievers who all make about $450,000. With the remaining $15-20 million, and still a few holes to fill, here’s the roster I would aim to assemble (click to enlarge).

Jump ahead to see how I’d get this team put together! Continue reading

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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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Tacoma Rainiers Update

The Mariners just promoted Mauricio Robles and Dan Cortes to Triple-A Tacoma from West Tennessee.  Cortes was no surprise, as he’s been ridiculously good since moving into the bullpen a few weeks ago.  Someone, I think Jason Churchill, reported that he hasn’t thrown a fastball under 97 mph, I believe, since the change.  If he keeps up anything close to that, I’ll be amazed if he’s not in the Mariners’ pen to start next year.  As it is, he’ll probably be called up in September anyway.

Robles is a little bit more surprising, but not incredibly so.  He’s having a good but not incredible year, but I think most would be pretty satisfied with his development thus far.  The lefty will start tomorrow, which pushes Pineda back a start.  I would imagine the major reason for these promotions are to help keep Pineda’s innings in check without depriving the Rainiers of talent while they fight for a playoff spot.  Both players are deserving though.

In other Tacoma news, Justin Smoak hit a homer last night and has three in his last 5 games.  He’s up to four homers and a .779 OPS at Tacoma after a terrible start when he was first sent down.  Dustin Ackley is hitting the cover off the ball, going 3-5 last night.  He’s at .304/.381/.471.  He’ll be starting at second in Seattle by July.

Thanks to Mike Curto’s blog, Mike… Off-Mic, for the info.  He’s the Rainiers radio announcer and an all-around good guy.

-Matthew

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Working On the Farm- AA West Tennessee

Edit-  Shortly after I posted this last night, Lueke and Beavan were promoted to Tacoma.  So that’s nice.  Expect to see Lueke in Seattle sometime this season.  Also, Cortes has been phenomenal in a handful of relief  appearances so far.  If he keeps it up, he could be on the fast track too.

AA West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx (Southern League)

When the season started, West Tennessee (WT from here on out) had maybe the best collection of talent in the system.  That’s been dampened slightly, as Tacoma’s gain of Ackley and Pineda was WT’s loss, but there’s still plenty to keep an eye on here.

The Tarnished Golden Child

Carlos Triunfel- SS (3B)  Triunfel has been in the system for four years now, and he’s still the youngest guy on the team at 20.  During his early years, he was seen as a potential Miguel Tejada type.  He had a good contact bat, was a bit of a free swinger, and seemed likely to add very good power for an infielder once he got some experience and filled out a little.  That description hasn’t really changed drastically, which is okay, I guess, but disappointing.  2008 seemed like a minor breakout, as he hit 8 homers with a .287/.336/.406 line.  Nothing incredible, but pretty good for an 18 year old in high-A ball, even if he was in an incredible hitter’s park at High Desert (more on that in the next post in this series).  2009 brought a gruesome broken leg and a lost season, however, and now at 20 he’s in AA and showing flashes but struggling regularly too.  His OPS is currently .645, which isn’t good, but he is a 20 year old in AA after missing nearly an entire year. 

It’s really hard to say where he goes from here.  Scouting reports are generally positive but lukewarm, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him either breakout or continue to struggle next year.  Further clouding the issue is whether he can stay at shortstop or not.  Most have assumed he’d have to move off short (probably to third to take advantage of a cannon arm), but the Mariners have kept him there, and now scouts seem to think he might be able to stick for at least his first few years in the bigs.  I’m betting on an A-Rod-esque track, shortstop for the first 5 years or so before moving to third.  Doubt he’ll ever be as good at short as A-Rod was initially though.  2011 is the year to really watch Triunfel.  He’ll likely start at AA again, and if he’s going to put it together, I’d bet that’s when he does it. Continue reading

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