In Austin Jackson, Mariners Land Decent Player and Massive Upgrade

In one of the smaller moves of the day, the Mariners dealt Abraham Almonte and another minor leaguer to the Padres for Chris Denorfia. It wasn’t a trade that caught much attention, because neither of the younger guys is of any real consequence, and Denorfia is a rental having a down season. It was just something that flew by, completely under the radar, and now something you should consider is that Almonte began the season as the Mariners’ starter in center field.

So it could be said that, later on Thursday, the Mariners addressed a need that was ever so desperate. They didn’t end up with David Price, but they did get themselves involved in the deal, adding Austin Jackson and subtracting Nick Franklin. Jackson has only another eight months of team control, and it would appear he might’ve peaked in 2012. But while Jackson hasn’t been playing like a star-level player, for the Mariners he ought to be an upgrade of some very real significance.

Let’s look at the familiar FanGraphs leaderboards and split for center fielders. You know which team has been the best? Of course you do. Angels center fielders — Mike Trout — have provided a WAR of 5.7. In the middle, we have the Twins and Cardinals, at 1.9. Way down toward the bottom, the Braves are at a paltry 0.3. Then you have the Cubs and the Mariners. Both teams are tied for last, at -0.8. Both teams, to date, have gotten performances out of center field you might expect from a random decent Double-A glove guy. The Mariners are trying to make the playoffs!

When the Mariners demoted Almonte, they did so without any good alternatives. The first guy to get more playing time was Stefen Romero, who is bad. Then came James Jones, who is also bad. It’s an outfield picture that’s involved entirely too much Endy Chavez, but as easy as it is to pick on the Mariners for Chavez’s presence, Jones has been a younger equivalent. He’s also been getting worse and worse, putting the Mariners in position of needing to find what outfield help they could.

Hence Jackson, who’s going from one contender to another. It’s always easier to go from bad to decent than from decent to good. Around deadline time, not very many contending teams have bad positions, because bad positions indicate bad rosters. You could say the Mariners are fortunate, then, because for them Jackson is a bigger upgrade than he ought to be. He’s a good deal better than Jones right now, and since he’s only 27, he should be good again in 2015, for an organization with almost zero outfield depth. This is a definite move out of short-term interests, but just because the Mariners aren’t the A’s or the Tigers doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to seize whatever kind of opportunity this is.

Jackson is going to be reunited with Lloyd McClendon, his former hitting coach. Just a couple years ago, Jackson posted a 134 wRC+, that dropped to 107, and then to this year’s 100. He’s long been something of a tinkerer, and what he’s missing right now is a bit of power, but he projects as a slightly above-average hitter and early in his career he’s been one of the better BABIP hitters in baseball history. Instead of driving balls over fences, he’s more of the spraying-line-drives sort, and in theory this ought to be his career prime. At least, there isn’t much risk that Jackson is going to fall flat on his face.

Of maybe greater concern is Jackson’s defense in center. We know that defense starts to decline from an early age, but Jackson’s numbers have gotten worse each year from 2011. Since the start of last season, Jackson has been average by DRS and below-average by UZR, and it’s possible he’s just lost some of his range. Yet, he should be flanked by capable defenders, and there’s no reason to believe Jackson is a defensive liability. What he seems like is an average or above-average player, who’s been a 5-win player before and who’s joining a team with a desperate need.

Leaving is Nick Franklin, who’s been undeniably obvious trade bait for the better part of a calendar year. It was a small miracle Franklin survived the winter without getting dealt, and then it seemed like a move in spring training was all but inevitable. At last, Franklin’s going somewhere where he isn’t blocked, as he just didn’t have a future with the Mariners.

Obviously, second base is taken care of. Shortstop is a little more up in the air, with the struggling Brad Miller and the unknown Chris Taylor, but few believe Franklin is a shortstop anyway, and then you’re thinking about a full-on switch to the outfield. So the Mariners almost had to trade Franklin, to get something out of him. Which wouldn’t justify just any deal — Franklin would have value to most other teams — but front offices have known about Franklin’s availability for months. No one was offering anything elite, so the Jackson return seems reasonable.

It’s important to understand that Franklin’s stock is down. He hasn’t hit in the majors, and he hasn’t hit in the minors for two months. It’s also important to understand that Franklin is still a valuable piece, given that he’s 23 and has a Triple-A OPS over .800. He destroyed Triple-A last year, he destroyed Triple-A earlier this year, and there was talk that he was disappointed to be demoted in early June. He’s a fairly disciplined hitter with surprising power for someone his size, and he’s twice been ranked a top-100 prospect. Even if he isn’t a shortstop, he has tools that could translate somewhere else, and it’s within the realm of possibility that he can be Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist after Ben Zobrist.

Years and years ago, Shin-Soo Choo was obvious trade bait. Eventually, he got traded, and the Mariners missed him. The likelihood is that Choo’s skillset back then was underrated, and Franklin profiles to be somewhat underrated as well, but then Austin Jackson is better than Ben Broussard. The Mariners, probably, are prepared for Franklin to be an okay player for a while, but they don’t seem to think he’ll be a star, and they do seem to think that Jackson will help them be a lot better for the next year and change.

The Mariners have dropped out of playoff position, but Jackson’s a big improvement, and Franklin had no role. Jackson will also be around for a similar team in 2015, so this isn’t a one-time shot. The Mariners had no hope of making themselves as good as the best teams in the American League, but that doesn’t mean you just fold up shop, and they upgraded without subtracting too much of the potential future. If Jackson returns to 2012 levels, he’ll be outstanding. If Franklin hits like he hit when he was first promoted to the majors, he’ll be highly valuable. Obviously, there are ways for both sides to come out of this deal a winner. If Jackson plays like he’s expected to, and if Franklin plays like he’s expected to, then it’ll look almost perfectly fair. For the Mariners, they had some real good players and a real bad position. This doesn’t fix them completely, but they’ve at least taken care of one embarrassment.




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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


48 Responses to “In Austin Jackson, Mariners Land Decent Player and Massive Upgrade”

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  1. tz says:

    Considering how the M’s smushed Franklin’s value down when they signed Cano, they should be happy to have gotten 60 cents on the dollar for him.

    To get $1.20 on the dollar though, big win for Jack Z.

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    • Balthazar says:

      Yeah, much like this.

      Whatever Franklin’s _actual_ value might be, Jack Zd could only trade him at a heavy discount given Franklin’s position in the organization after he got Cano-ed. To get back a solid major league performer at a position of great current need is pretty good. Jackson may well have peaked; then again, Coco Crisp look down, but bounced back with Oakland to become a key performer. Franklin may be a star, and make us regret this; but it may take him 2-3 years of hacking to grow himself into the shoes of his present competitiveness.

      Nick Franklin should have been in the majors all year, and it’s understandable if he doesn’t have much interest in AAA—even if he’s got plenty to work on. I wish him the best heading home to Florida in an organization where he’ll get to play full time in the majors from here on out.

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  2. Richie says:

    Yeah, a solid move. (less than trenchant, but since I’ve been bashing enough other trades around here, figure I should enter it into the record that I do like one of them)

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  3. wobatus says:

    Nice upgrade from negative to average.

    Anyone see Franklin at ss and Quique Hernandez as a 2b in Miami? or vice versa?

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  4. walt526 says:

    I wouldn’t completely dismiss Denorfia. He’s a nice little role player who complements the Mariners left-handed hitting corner outfielders quite well.

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    • Balthazar says:

      Probably platoon partner with Michael Saunders, and wouldn’t be surprised to the the Mariners try to get him signed for next year. An experienced, right-handed outfielder with good D and multiple skills is exactly what the Mariners needed to pick up in the last offseason, so they may try to keep this one. . . . If he hits in Safeco, that’s the big if with anybody . . . .

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  5. bookbook says:

    My kingdom for a DH…

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  6. Craig Kline says:

    I don’t see how this is a “massive upgrade.”

    It appears that Jackson is no longer a plus defender. His UZR was negative last year and is also negative this year, and his baserunning has declined dramatically, to the point where he is barely above average on the bases. Perhaps his UZR is just being fluky, but there is a serious chance that he is no longer a plus defender. His bat has been only slightly above average (which is still good), but his offensive numbers have always been driven by his crazy BABIP ability- which is at least partially reliant on speed. His career .357 BABIP is among the tops in baseball, and with his decline in speed, it’s hardly shocking to see his BABIP down to ~.332 over the past two years. His infield-hit rate, which was over 10% for both 2010 and 2011, is down to 3.7%. His groundball-to-flyball ratio is a career low 0.98, well below his 1.33 career average. Admittedly, his line drive rate of 24% is still plenty high enough to support a high BABIP, but its fairly clear that some of his skills that made previous offensive production possible have declined. He projects to add ~1 WAR over the rest of the season, entirely from his bat.

    He makes 6M this year, so we can pro-rate that down for 2M for the remaining to months.

    Abraham Almonte makes the minimum, over his brief career, has produced 0.3 WAR in 195 PA. That projects to 0.85 WAR per 550 PA, or 1.0 WAR per 650 PA. Austin Jackson is currently projected to accumulate 2.1 WAR over 650 PAs. Using Almonte’s whole career instead of his tiny sample size from this season provides for a more accurate estimate of his value, whereas by pigeonholding Almonte’s value by using his awful performance in ~100 PAs this season, Jackson appears to be a better comparative value.

    So the upgrade over Almonte appears to be ~1 per season. But there is only 1/3 of the season left, so that get’s cut down to 0.3 WAR upgrade over the course of the season. 0.3 WAR for 2M is about market value.

    But Seattle didn’t give up Almonte, they gave up Nick Franklin. And while Franklin is not that great and his projections vary, but his ZIPS value projections are comparable to Jackson at a lower cost. ZIPS projects Franklin to contribute 0.5 WAR over 145 PA for the rest of the season. That equals 1.1 WAR over 550 PA and 1.34 WAR over 650 PAs. Franklin makes the league minimum and has years of cost control left, while Jackson is a FA at the end of the year. Over the course of a 650 PA season, Jackson would be expected to contribute 0.7-1.0 additional WAR than Franklin, so for 1/3 of the season remaining, he would be expected to be ~0.2-0.3 WAR better than Franklin. Again, the price is 2M, so again, this is a roughly market value upgrade, minus the value of Franklin’s cost control years.

    Whether comparing to Almonte or Franklin, it’s not clear that Jackson is a massive upgrade. Trading youth and cost control for paid mediocre veteran rentals is generally not a good strategy for clubs that are twice as likely to miss the playoffs than make it.

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    • Klatz says:

      There’s no spot to play Franklin and his value goes way down if he plays left or right field. You can’t really assess Franklin’s value based on his projections if he doesn’t play.

      The trade was from a surplus for a need. Austin Jackson, for the Ms is more than Franklin on the bench or in AAA. Not only that Jackson will play in CF, for a team that has been lacking a true CF for at least a couple years now.

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      • Craig Kline says:

        Seattle has only 6 position players with a WAR above 0.2. Accordingly, there is at least potentially room for Franklin.

        Cano, obviously, is not a plus defender at 2b, while all of the Ms 1B are below replacement level. Moving Franklin to 2B and Cano to 1B would likely be a substantial upgrade in team WAR, despite the positional adjustments.

        The M’s are simply bad enough where any player who projects to add 1+ WAR over a full season can find a spot.

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        • King Buzzo's Fro says:

          Jesus freaking Montero! They didn’t sign Cano to play first

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        • Teej says:

          Hmmm, should we deal from a surplus to improve this disgusting outfield, or move our single best position player to the easiest spot on the field, significantly lowering his value with more than nine years left on his contract?

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        • Balthazar says:

          Yes, moving Cano to 1B and having Franklin play 2B would have been ideal—on a fantasy team. In reality, there is no WAY Cano would be happy being moved, and this would create huge personnel problems for the team.

          Cano’s defense is hugely overrated, agreed. Just like Jeter’s. He’s on the team for his bat, and in his comfort zone to keep him happy at the plate. Just like Jeter has been for ten years. ‘Analyzing’ the situation without considering the human realities is nonsensical. I’d love to have kept Franklin, but the realities of the personnel made that _impossible_.

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        • skippyballer486 says:

          “Cano, obviously, is not a plus defender at 2b,”

          Somebody should tell UZR that.

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        • deflated says:

          You really need to add a dose of context to your analysis before it makes any sense.

          Two years ago Franklin was the future of the Mariners infield. Then Miller passed him and Franklin did not excite at the top level. Then Cano was acquired. Franklin regressed further. Chris Taylor then passed him and looks somewhat useful. Now Franklin is 4th in line with guys like Marte closing rapidly.

          Franklin would not be getting 2b playing time barring injuries for the foreseeable future. He is not adding +1 WAR to that team

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        • Craig Kline says:

          @SkippyBaller486

          Uh, Cano has a career -26.8 URZ at 2B.

          No one needs to “tell UZR” that Cano isn’t a plus defensive 2B. You simply need to realize that UZR takes seasons to stabilize, instead of looking only at recent and smaller sample sizes.

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    • bookbook says:

      It wasn’t a “massive steal” in that Austin Jackson isn’t necessarily worth more than Nick Franklin in a vacuum. (Though inside of a vacuum it’s too dark to read.)

      It’s a “massive upgrade” because–right now–you’re replacing James Jones, who isn’t ready to either hit or field CF at the major league level with some one who has played this year as a league average bat and a slightly below average defensive centerfielder. Even if this year is Austin Jackson’s true level, as opposed to previous years’ hitting and fielding, that’s a massive upgrade (from a projected -1 or so WAR or so to a projected 2.5 or so WAR over a full year). No one player can make you or break you (thus Mariner teams that didn’t win with Griffey/A-Rod/Edgar/Randy), but the M’s couldn’t realistically plug all 6 holes in their offensive juggernaut. They plugged one, and well.

      Almonte has nothing to do with anything for 2014, or probably 2015. He didn’t hit in his extended trial, he isn’t hitting in Tacoma.

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      • Craig Kline says:

        Almonte certainly does factor into the equation. He’s been an above replacement-level CF during both brief stints he’s had in the majors. He currently projects above replacement level.

        To make the argument that Jackson is a massive upgrade, you are assuming a baseline of -1 WAR. That baseline isn’t relevant, because of Almonte.

        And you are taking the high side of Jackson’s projections, ZIPS has him as 2.1 WAR, Steamer has 2.4. That’s a 2.25 WAR player more than a 2.5 WAR player.

        So the difference is between a 2.25 WAR player over 650 PAs, and a 1.0 WAR player (Almonte) over 650 PA: that’s a 1.25 WAR difference. It doesn’t matter that Almonte isn’t hitting in Tacoma, that doesn’t let you ignore his above-replacement level performance and projection. And it’s not even correct to say he isn’t hitting, his wOBA at Tacoma is .326.

        Now you divide that 1.25 WAR by 3, given that there are only two months left. That’s .42 WAR upgrade, at cost of $2M and Nick Franlin. Franlin is projected to add 0.5 WAR over those same two months.

        That is not a massive upgrade.

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        • JamesDaBear says:

          So… over a larger sample his BB% is down, his K% is up, his ISO has cratered and his numbers in AAA vs last year are even worse news and you still want us to give him credit for an above-average projection? Almonte had the job handed to him out of spring training. His performance dictated him losing the job, and he did nothing since then to earn it back.

          It’s all a moot point since Almonte is no longer a part of the Mariners organization to use in your baseline. Unless you’re analyzing the Padres OF, Almonte is now even more irrelevant. For funsies, I’ll grant your claims of what Almonte was earlier in the season because it only strengthens the potential upgrade of Jackson versus the options the Mariners actually had in their organization when they traded for him.

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        • the tourist says:

          Almonte was awful this year at the plate and derived all of his value from a small sample size in center field that didn’t necessarily match the eye test.

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        • Steen says:

          I can’t tell you how ridiculous it reads to see someone arguing the merits of Abe Almonte. Save your numbers, every mariner fan saw him play. None of them want to see it again. The guy was a train wreck at the plate, on the bases and in the field. Just stop.

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        • algionfriddo says:

          Almonte looked like a AAAA player at best & he was rightly sent down. He ran poor routes, his arm was strong but wild, he was a dumb base-runner who misused his speed, he was a total hacker who made poor contact. He was never an answer in any fashion despite occasional flashes of good play.
          Apparently Jack ‘Z’ gave up on him too he was part of the Denorfia trade with SD.
          If Jackson is just a league average guy in CF going forward, it will be a massive upgrade over Almonte & Jones. In part, because Lloyd M. foolishly wasted the leadoff spot far to often on both Jones & Almonte. Lloyd may be a highly regarded ‘leader of men’, but he is not a very astute tactician.

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        • skippyballer486 says:

          ZIPs and Steamer combined ROS projections:

          Austin Jackson – 0.9 WAR

          Abraham Almonte – 0.25 WAR

          Anyone who feels they can consistently beat those projection systems, prove it and I’ll be thrilled to pay for your fantasy baseball advice on a yearly basis. Almonte’s projection though, is hurt by his playing time projection (126 PA vs. 218.5 PA for Jackson). I could see giving Almonte a small boost if you assume he’d be an everyday player. I could also see giving him a small penalty, given that the Mariners obviously didn’t think he was good enough to deserve to play. I think those two balance out, leaving me to say that the .65 WAR difference is a reasonable guess.

          Obviously .65 WAR is not a lot, and probably isn’t worth it if Nick Franklin is playing every day. But changing guys positions is not just automatically successful. If Franklin and Cano are both better suited to 2B than any other position you could be hurting their value by a decent amount by trying to move them around the diamond. I’m not in any kind of a position to make that judgement, but I would say that unless Franklin ends up a valuable utility player later (a la Zobrist), this trade was a good one for the Mariners.

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        • Craig Kline says:

          @SkippyBaller486

          The numbers you cite prove my point.

          I am not trying to “beat” the projections, I am simply explaining what they say.

          The projections have Jackson to add 0.85 WAR (0.7 by Zips, 1.0 by Steamer) over the rest of the season, over an average of 207.5 PAs. The projections have Almonte providing 0.3 WAR (0.3 by Zips, 0.3 by Steamer) for the rest of the season, over an average of 123.5 PAs. For some reason, you gave Jackson an extra 0.05 WAR and took away 0.05 WAR from Almonte when making your point, although the projections may have changed with the new teams.

          If you want to measure which player would perform better given the same opportunity (i.e. Seattle’s starting CF job), you have to give each player the same PAs. Normalizing for 207.5 PAs, Almonte is projected to provide 0.5 WAR (0.504). Jackson, as said, is expected to contribute 0.85 WAR over that same number of PAs. That’s a 0.35 WAR difference- nearly half of the 0.65 difference you suggested. Paying $2M for a 0.35 WAR upgrade is “free agency” market value, so paying that plus giving up a player with years of cost control is paying over the value established on the free agent market. Whether that price is justified at the trade deadline can be argued…

          but it cannot be reasonably argued that this is a MASSIVE upgrade.

          ZIPs has Franklin projected to contribute 0.5 WAR over the rest of this season, over only 135 PAs. And unlike Jackson, Franklin will do this at the minimum (as would Almonte). Steamer has Franklin projected for 0.1 WAR over the rest of the year, over only 33 PAs. Those projections come out to 0.75 WAR (ZIPS) over 207.5 PAs, and 0.25 WAR (Steamer) over 207.5 PA. Obviously, the average of those numbers is 0.5 WAR.

          So the projections actually say that- if given the same opportunity to produce- Seattle would get more WAR out of Almonte and Franklin than it would out of Jackson and a replacement level player. The Mariners are currently getting below replacement level production from several spots in their starting lineup.

          Accordingly, this trade is not a massive upgrade.

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        • Craig Kline says:

          @JamesDeBear

          Yes, every projection system has Almonte as an above-replacement level player, despite the micro-trends you have noted. In fact, all the projection systems see Almonte as a substantially above-replacement level player over 650 PAs.

          You may have noticed that none of the micro-trends you cited have to do with Almonte’s main contribution: very good defense. In CF, that matters, especially in stadiums like Seattle’s.

          And yes, Almonte is relevant to the conversation. The M’s went into the last day of the trade deadline with Almonte in their system, and ended up with Austin Jackson after trading away one of the assets that they have most highly valued over the past few years. The author claims that getting Jackson in over Almonte is a massive upgrade.

          The projection systems show that- as long as Almonte and Franklin are given PAs- that the upgrade is not massive, and may even be negative.

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    • JamesDaBear says:

      If you can’t see it, read the article again. Jeff explained it well enough.

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    • Balthazar says:

      It’s Almonte’s second half of _2013_ that looks out of context with the rest of his career, minors and majors. He had a fluke streak, nothing more. If you had watched him play in those 100 dreadful ABs this season, you wouldn’t write them off so easily. Almonte did nothing for the next two months in the minors either. He’s being half-decent now; for AAA, not for any projection to the majors. The fact is it’s the projections which are likely out of whack. BTW his defense was so atrocious most of the time, the range which perhaps got him a positive defensive number really didn’t play. Abe absolutely couldn’t pick the ball up off the bat. I doubt Abe Almonte ever makes a serious impact in the big leagues again. Project all you want, but there seems no upside there from the ‘eyeballs on’ standpoint.

      Now, I don’t disagree with you on Austin Jackson. His numbers suggest that he has lost a step, which seriously impacts his value. Given Jackson’s LD rate, I’m wondering if he can remake himself to a degree as a batter into a guy looking more for alley power, an approach that might play in Safeco anyway. Compared to _Almonte_, Jackson is still a huge gain. Compared to Franklin . . . well the Mariners blew their foot off on Franklin and tank his value, so there it is. Nothing in Austin Jackson’s value impacts the fact the the Mariners couldn’t get full value back for Franklin in any deal because of how they set themselves up. At the end of the deal, Austin plays a position of great current need for the team while Franklin has NO position in the foreseeable future. So: bit the bullet and deal.

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    • rrr says:

      Handwringing over Nick Franklin? This is one of those cases where the old school eye test wins out over your statistical analyses. Good lord, Nick Franklin. Come on.

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      • Craig Kline says:

        It’s not hand-wringing over Franklin.

        It’s simply pointing out that the “negative glove” version of Austin Jackson is not a huge upgrade. And no, the “old school eye test” is not winning out over statistical analysis.

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        • Ivan says:

          It’s not a question of “winning out.” Both approaches have value. Sometimes the eye test explains what statistical analysis cannot explain fully, and sometimes statistical analysis explains what the aye test has neglected to account for. Both approaches can be misapplied, and often are.

          Few people who have seen Almonte play on an everyday basis would call him “above replacement level,” and most would laugh at the notion. He has some tools, but few skills. He appeared to have no idea what he was doing at the plate, and hacked away in self-defense. Pitchers did not treat him with respect. In the field, his routes to the ball were always a step late, even if he caught up with it. I can’t imagine that Almonte inspired any confidence in his pitchers. There might not be any way to quantify this dynamic, but when it exists, it exists with a value of greater than zero.

          There is little reason to think SD will give him at-bats, and my best guess is that even if they do, it won’t be for long.

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  7. Chris says:

    Anyone think that Jackson is someone the M’s will try to extend this winter with such an obvious lack of depth in their system at CF? As an average-ish player plugging a hole with some bashers coming for the corners in the next 3 years, I don’t see that a 5 or 6 year extension would be a bad idea if the price is right – maybe something like 5 – $50MM to take his last arb year and take him through age 32 season? Not sure if he thinks he could cash in big in a year and a half.

    More and more it seems that even a player like Jackson reaching free agency doesn’t happen much, so that might underscore the M’s urgency in getting a deal done and paying more of a premium to keep him in Seattle. Hopefully the McClendon connection will help Jackson bounce back and feel at home in Seattle as well.

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    • JamesDaBear says:

      5-6 years looks too long for a guy who has declined last two years. I’m not against the Mariners signing him to an extension, but I think I’d wait until 2015 and hope he’s worth a qualifying offer and go from there.

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    • Balthazar says:

      Yeah, Jackson has declined two years in a row. And a lot of right-handers are completely neutralized in Safeco. It is key to see how he handles coming to a much lowlier team than Detroit and how he hits in Safeco. If he does well, then and only then sound out his agent on the framework of a longer term deal. This is a situation what has to play out some, nothing in it is certain as of deadline day.

      And even then, I wouldn’t like to see a five year deal. Look at Michael Bourn and B. J. Upton now. Was Austin Jackson better than either of them? Hard to see that. And that’s even before factoring in Jackson’s apparent decline _before_ free agency. He’s a useful guy, potentially very useful. But let’s not get ahead of the performance, here.

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  8. rrr says:

    Solid move by Jack Z. Shocking.

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  9. Rowland-Smith says:

    I also think that the Rays will know how to handle and develop Franklin. He has some skills, showed some power and may be open to learn a new position.
    He’s not gonna be a good as Zobrist, because of his defense, but I can see him being useful for Tampa.

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    • Balthazar says:

      Agreed on Tampa’s player development skills. Franklin won’t have Zobrist’s D–not many do—but may be above average at 2b himself. Franklin may well have more power than Zobrist once he settle in, however. As a lefty bat primarily, Franklin has the platoon advantage as well. If Tampa gets its development done right, they can get a couple of 5-win seasons out of Franklin as a regular. Nick’s an intense competitor too, and intangible as that may be from the stat standpoint it does matter on teams which plan to win as opposed to simply play games and sell tickets.

      Nick Franklin is easily the best prospect who changed hands during the 2014 deadline season. Consider that when evaluating ‘what Tampa got.’

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  10. maqman says:

    Prospects are suspects until they prove otherwise. Almonte wasn’t traded for Jackson so comparisons are moot. Anyone who thinks this was a losing proposition doesn’t follow the Mariners very closely. So far I’ve only seen one dipstick that didn’t see Jackson as a significant improvement for the M’s.

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    • Craig Kline says:

      The Almonte comparison is not moot. The author notes several times that the Mariners lack good alternatives in CF, specifically commenting on Almonte: and this is the basis for his argument that Jackson is a “massive” upgrade. If Almonte’s performance was moot to the author’s point, his name wouldn’t be mentioned 3 times in the article.

      This article simply commits an error that Fangraphs authors used to be able to avoid better: it celebrates a “name” player who is both paid, on the decline, and a negative defender; over a player whose value comes from his glove. This error is particularly misleading, because this position at issue is CF at Safeco: one of the most demanding defensive positions in baseball.

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    • Craig Kline says:

      I also think the inverse of your statement is likely true:

      “anyone who thinks that this was a massive upgrade is [likely] either the author or a Mariners fan.”

      Three different posters in this thread have cited the “eyeball test” to dismiss either Almonte or Franklin. But they didn’t even do so ironically.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ivan says:

        If I am one of the posters you are referring to, I hope you will stipulate that I made no claim that Jackson was a “massive upgrade,” nor that he would be any upgrade at all. I don’t think the evidence is in yet.

        However, as regards Almonte, if you are making the argument that Almonte is a plus WAR defender in CF, because your projection systems tell you that he is, and that is all you need to evaluate Almonte accurately, then sorry, I can’t take that seriously.

        If you are making the argument that the eyeball test, even though it might include 100 percent of all games Almonte played, is 100 percent valueless, and should not even be included, then sorry, I can’t take that seriously either. I can’t help what you consider ironic or not ironic.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

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