Mar 252011

Major Moves

The Mariners brought in Miguel Olivo to catch, Brendan Ryan to play second (moving Figgins back to third), and Jack Cust to play DH. All are value signings – $6M for the three of them, and they are not old (29-32) and all had value in 2010. Justin Smoak (obtained in the Cliff Lee trade) is expected to man first base, and Erik Bedard (back from injury) and Luke French will replace Rowland-Smith and Lee in the rotation. There is turnover in the bullpen, as well.

Hitters 2010 F 2011 F (+8.5 wins)

The Mariners pulled off a rare quadruple-play in 2010: they were last (of 30 MLB teams) in runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. And they play with the DH! This was an amazingly bad offensive squad, and almost anything would be an improvement. In fact, my analysis shows them better at EVERY position except right field, where they replace Ichiro with Ichiro, but a year older and expected to regress. Of course, we expect that EVERY year, and he almost never obliges. I have the Mariners as an amazing 8½ wins better on offense than last year – that probably puts them clear up to dreadful. If hitting is half the game, the Mariners were 20-61 in that half – eight more runs puts them at 28-53, a .346 winning percentage which is still .100 short of a grade of D. I know they play in a pitcher’s park, but WOW can they not hit.

Starters 2010 B 2011 C+

Led by Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez and long-gone Cliff Lee, the Mariners parlayed their extreme park into a solid grade in their rotation. In reality, those two plus Vargas were good, the rest bad to awful (yes, I have Fister and Pauley as deserving .500 records, but those ERAs in THIS park are not good: both had below-league ERA+. Replacing Cliff Lee with oft-injured Erik Bedard has to cost some, though Luke French has to be an improvement over Ryan Rowland-Smith. I see the rotation as a little worse than 2010.

Bullpen 2010 C+ 2011 C+

Brandon League was the only Seattle reliever to log over 50 innings last season and he is slated to take over the closer role, with Aardsma’s departure for greener pastures. Also gone are Jamey Wright and Sean White, the Mariner’s two oldest relievers. I don’t understand the bWAR for this bullpen: Brandon League pitched 79 innings of ERA+ 116 for which he is awarded -0.1 WAR? A replacement-level pitcher would have done BETTER than that?? Anyway, my metric shows last year’s group as slightly above average, and I expect this year’s ragtag collection to be about the same.

Overall 2010 F 2011 F

I look for about a 7-game improvement in the Mariners this year, which puts them at 68-94. And if Felix Hernandez should go down with an injury, they could clear 100 losses easily for the second straight season.

Charts

Player Position 2011 2010
Miguel Olivo Catcher 1.4 -1.4
Justin Smoak First Base 1.0 -0.9
Brendan Ryan Second Base 1.6 1.3
Chone Figgins Third Base 3.0 1.6
Jack Wilson Shortstop 1.4 1.2
Michael Saunders Left Field 1.0 0.4
Franklin Gutierrez Center Field 4.1 3.4
Ichiro Suzuki Right Field 4.2 4.5
Jack Cust Designated Hitter 1.7 1.0
19.4 11.1

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Felix Hernandez Starting Pitcher 5.0 6.0
Jason Vargas Starting Pitcher 2.0 2.1
Doug Fister Starting Pitcher 1.2 0.8
Erik Bedard Starting Pitcher 1.0 0.3
Luke French Starting Pitcher 1.0 2.7
10.2 11.9

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Garrett Olson Relief Pitcher 0.5 -0.2
Josh Lueke Relief Pitcher 0.5 0.3
David Pauley Relief Pitcher 0.5 -0.4
Danny Cortes Relief Pitcher 0.5 0.0
Brandon League Closer 1.5 -0.1
Ian Snell Relief Pitcher 0.5 0.0
4.0 -0.4

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