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7 Thoughts on Garko, Sweeney, Griffey, etc.

As you’ve probably heard by now, the Mariners waived Ryan Garko, having been thoroughly unimpressed with his glove and bat this spring, particularly his glove, which is so bad they don’t want to platoon him with Casey Kotchman at first base. Plenty of reaction and analysis is already out there in the blogosphere, here I offer a loose series of (dis)connected thoughts.

1. Given that Garko’s glove is apparently un-platoon-able, and assuming that the Mariners had been willing to use him as their full-time DH, how would that compare to the current plan? CHONE (less optimistic on Garko than ZiPS) projects Garko for a .336 wOBA. ZiPS is more optimistic for both Mike Sweeney and Ken Griffey Jr. If they platoon at DH (with a 70/30 RHP/LHP distribution), and adjusting for estimated platoon skill, a Griffey/Sweeney platoon projects for a .327 wOBA. Over 150 games (about 630 PA), that’s about a 5 run (about half a win) difference.

2. Using the same inputs as in #1, against RHP, right-handed hitting Garko projects to have a .329 wOBA; against RHP, left-handed hitting Griffey projects for .325.

3. A league-average hitter is a replacement level DH. For the past three seasons, the league-average wOBAs have been .331, .328, and .329, respectively.

4. Sweeney and Griffey are apparently important to the Mariners for their positive effect on chemistry. Last season, Tom Tango used the example of Cliff Floyd to show that the open market values the “intangibles” at $350,000 per season. What does this situation tell us about the 2010 market for intangibles?

According to Cot’s, Garko is guaranteed $550,000 this season, Sweeney $650,000 in the majors, and Griffey $2.35 million (we’ll leave out the various playing time and award incentives for the sake of simplicity). First, let’s eliminate the “replacement salary” of about $400,000 for each player, so we’re left with $150,000 for Garko, $250,000 for Sweeney, and $1.95 million for The Zombie Kid. From #1 and #3 we can infer (generously) that a Sweeney/Griffey DH platoon would be around replacement level. So their “surplus salary” would tell us how much the Mariners are willing to pay for chemistry — $2.2 million. But we need to take account of Garko. Let’s assume he adds nothing to chemistry (or is it alchemy?). Still, we’ve established him as (conservatively) half a win (runs) better than the Sweeney/Griffey DH platoon (and we should really be only eliminating one of Griffey/Sweeney’s replacement salaries, since Garko only takes one roster spot, but this was supposed to be a simple post…). A win on the open market this offseason was going for around $3.5 million, so half a win is $1.75 million. That means that the Mariners are valuing Griffey and Sweeney’s “clubhouse presence” at almost four million dollars this season. The Mariners thus must think that the chemical advantage added by Sweeney and Griffey will add at a bit more than a win for them this season.

Feel free to check my math.

5. If Griffey and Zombie Sweeney are platooning at “chemistry,” does this mean their lockers are on either side of Milton Bradley‘s?

6. I wonder what Kenny thinks of all this?

7. Yes, it’s only one decision, so “small sample size” caveats apply, even to front offices. Still, how fitting is it that this decision is announced so close to the Mariners’ organizational ranking being posted?