Kotchman’s Last Chance?

With the rumored acquisition of Casey Kotchman, it looks like the former first round pick is getting one more chance. Heading into his age 27 season, coming off two highly disappointing performances, Kotchman is headed for a make-it-or-break-it year. He showed offensive ability in the minors, then had a good season as a 24-year-old in 2007.

But he hasn’t just stagnated, he’s regressed. His power has dried up, as he posted a sad .114 ISO last year, and he doesn’t hit for a high enough average to make that lack of power work. In fact, Kotchman is getting dangerously close to Ben Grieve territory.

Grieve, you’ll remember, was the hot shot top prospect of the A’s who came up in 1997 and made an immediate impact. In 1998, his true rookie year, he posted a .372 wOBA as a 22-year-old, showing both patience and power. He had two more good years, in fact, and looked like on of the better young hitters in baseball. And then he fell apart, and was out of baseball before he turned 30.

Austin Kearns is on a similar career path right now. Once a higly touted prospect, he experienced early career success, but has been terrible of late, and is now relegated to a non-guaranteed, minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians. If Kearns doesn’t show some life in his bat this year, he probably won’t get another shot.

Kotchman isn’t quite there yet, but if he doesn’t hit in 2010, he’ll probably never get another look as a starting first baseman. Defensively, he’s good – everyone knows he can pick it. But he’s great contact skills and a frame that should produce power, but it just hasn’t.

Seattle should be a good fit for him. Safeco Field is friendly to LH hitters, with a short porch down the right field line that turns line drives into home runs. He won’t have to hit 400+ foot shots to get them out to right in Seattle. But he’s going to have to hit 350+ foot shots more regularly than he has.

Right now, Kotchman is unfulfilled potential. He has the talent to be a good player, even if not a star. At 27, it’s time for him to show what he can really do. It’s time to put up or shut up. He won’t be viewed as a guy with potential for much longer. He either shows he can hit in 2010, or he might not be around much longer.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

64 Responses to “Kotchman’s Last Chance?”

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  1. Steve C says:

    What does this mean for Branyan?

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    • Brendan Scolari says:

      Well he won’t be coming back to Seattle, you can be pretty sure of that.

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    • Bodhizefa says:

      I think he’s a goner, which is unfortunate, because I really enjoyed watching him play for Seattle last year. Branyan may end up having his pick of the Mets, Royals and Marlins if any of them will pony-up a one-year deal for him.

      I do like Kotchman, but at this point, hoping for him to be more than a 1 to 1.5 WAR player seems risky. On the other hand, if the M’s want to upgrade come mid-season if Kotchman isn’t doing the job, I’ll bet 1st base may end up being a pretty easy spot to find available trade partners.

      It’s a pretty low-risk maneuver by the M’s, especially once we find out the finances of the deal (I think it’s possible the M’s may gain a million or two in this deal after Kotchman’s arbitration and with some of the Milwaukee Bill Hall fund staying in Seattle). My guess is that Seattle sees a solid pitching upgrade that’s going to cost $8-$10 million (Sheets? Harang?), and that they didn’t have quite enough money to fund it until this deal. And with the mid-season slush fund, Zduriencik won’t have to worry about an extra $4 million or so for a 1st base pick-up if he has to make one.

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  2. Matt C says:

    looks like another savvy move by the Ms. they bought low on Branyan, who surpassed expectations; now they’re selling high by not giving him a multiyear deal that he probably won’t live up to.

    look for a bounce-back year from Kotchman. maybe he’s this year’s Branyan — only 8 years younger and a better defender. combined with resigning Gutierrez, this just solidifies Jack Z’s position as one of the smarter GMs in baseball.

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    • Brendan Scolari says:

      I don’t see what’s so savvy about it. Kotchman isn’t a great value at 5M for one year, and the M’s had to give Boston the money for BIll Hall’s contract if I understand correctly. I know the tendency is to fawn over everything Jack Z does right now (and deservedly so for the most part) but this isn’t anything other than paying a fair market salary for a likely below average player for the Mariners, there’s nothing special here.

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      • Bodhizefa says:

        I don’t think Boston will be getting all the money that Seattle was supposed to be giving Hall. We’ll see, but as I mentioned above, I think Seattle may gain a million or two out of this deal.

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      • Brendan Scolari says:

        There’s still the question of whether Kotchman is worth five million dollars. Glaus signed with the Braves for 1.75M (with incentives), is he a worse option than Kotchman? CHONE projects Glaus to be worth 1.7 WAR and Kotchman to be worth 1.2 WAR. If not, why not just sign Glaus and use the savings on somebody else?

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      • Bodhizefa says:

        What I’m saying is that Kotchman may actually be cheaper for the M’s than Bill Hall was.

        From a budget standpoint, Hall was owed something like $8.2 million dollars this year. Kotchman is going to be owed around $5 million or so (according to most people who know more than I do). Even if the M’s give Boston a million or two, they’re still saving some budgeted money to use on another player.

        In other words, if I’m right, the net monetary gain that the M’s could make by dealing for Kotchman as opposed to signing Branyan or Delgado for $3 million (give or take) is something like $4 or $5 million dollars.

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      • Bill says:

        Unlike Glaus, Kotchman does have some room for growth. He was a big time prospect at one time. How is he much different than Carlos Pena was at this point in his career? They were both highly touted prospects that showed some big league potential then fizzled. Sure Kotchman could be Ben Grieve, but he could also be Carlos Pena. Glaus has almost no upside.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Milwaukee was picking up a little over $7 million of Hall’s 2010 salary, regardless of what coast he plays on.

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      • Nathaniel Dawson says:

        Kevin, Milwaukee is sending Seattle $7 million. That money does not go directly to Bill Hall. His $8.5 million contract now gets assigned to Boston. That money doesn’t follow him, Milwauke will still be sending that money to Seattle. It remains to be seen how much money Seattle will be sending Boston.

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    • Steve says:

      is there really a multi-year deal out there for Branyan? and if there is, how much could it possibly be worth?

      Jack Z is doing a great job so far, but starting a season with a hitter as crappy as Kotchman starting at 1B does not exactly bolster his case as the smartest GM in baseball.

      I get that this site has Mariners leanings, and I’m totally cool with that, but that doesn’t change the fact that Kotchman isn’t very good.

      If Branyan signs a modest deal somewhere, which I suspect he will, this isn’t going to look all that smart.

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      • Bodhizefa says:

        I liked Branyan an awful lot last year, but even I have no idea how he’s recovering in terms of his back injury (which, as someone who recently turned 30, I can attest actually does suck in a major major way, lol). Also, I think we’re going to find out that Seattle is probably going to gain a little bit of money in this deal, which may be the difference in them picking up a pitcher like Harang or Sheets or them having to settle for someone like Doug Davis.

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      • Brendan Scolari says:

        I don’t get the saving money argument either. If Seattle has to pay the majority of Hall’s contract plus 5M for Kotchman they have to come out at least a few million worse than they were before. Saving money would be using Mike Carp at first (who’s projected for the same WAR as Kotchman by the fans) or trading some nothing minor leaguer for Josh Phelps at the minimum salary or something, there’s no way Kotchman is as cheap as those guys.

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      • Matt C says:

        be honest, Steve, wouldn’t you have said last year that “starting a season with a hitter as crappy as Branyan starting at 1B” didn’t look good? his past few years weren’t exactly stellar. someone will pay him too much now, and he’ll never have as good a season as 2009.

        granted, Kotchman’s not Lou Gehrig either. but if you gave me a straight choice between him and a gimpy Branyan, i’d take Kotchman. i don’t have any particular Ms bias (i’m a Phillies fan), but i expect this move will look good by next offseason.

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      • Trevor says:

        Branyan had showed some promise in ’08 though, albeit in a limited sample. Also he came pretty cheaply. Kotchman’s had 2 below average years, and he’s getting more expensive. I don’t think it’s a bad move, but I don’t think it’s anything great either. If they were looking for a barely adequate first baseman, then I think they got the right guy.

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      • Steve says:

        be honest, Steve, wouldn’t you have said last year that “starting a season with a hitter as crappy as Branyan starting at 1B” didn’t look good?

        ok, but isn’t Seattle on a much different part of the success cycle right now?

        Seattle had failry long odds to make the playoffs last year, so taking a flyer on Branyan was totally appropriate.

        but Seattle is probably neck and neck with Anaheim right now, to the point where punting half of a season of bad offense at 1B could very well be the difference between making the playoffs or not.

        it just feels like every move Seattle is making gets the automatic seal of approval, yet this trade is completely blah at best. why should we pretend otherwise?

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      • Steve says:

        and i forgot to close my italics tag. well done.

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    • DickAlmighty says:

      I’m not sure that “not giving [Branyan] a multiyear deal” constitutes “selling high.” Selling high implies actually getting something in return for a player. In this case, they’re just smartly not buying high.

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  3. FlimtotheFlam says:

    Am I the only one that thinks Brett Wallace is a lot like Casey Kotchman without a glove?

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    • Brendan Scolari says:

      Um, yes? Wallace is 23 years old, and has the potential to be an impact hitter. Just because Kotchman didn’t fulfill his promise with the stick doesn’t mean Wallace won’t.

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    • Bodhizefa says:

      I don’t think you can assess that any minor leaguer with a solid track record of success is going to comp out with someone who didn’t find success in the big leagues. I don’t know about Kotchman specifically, but Dave mentioned Kearns above, who was a very talented athlete and hitter coming into the big leagues. And you know what he did with that talent? He p*ssed it away. He was lazy, didn’t train or practice, ate horrible food, and didn’t really listen to criticism or coaching at all.

      I think Kotchman is the son of a former player and scout, so I’d have to hope he’s got more sense and drive than Kearns. Still, there’s often a good reason that prospects don’t pan out, and a lot of the time, it’s their own fault.

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      • wobatus says:

        Kearns’s shoulder got wrecked in a collision, I thought, early on in his career. I don’t know anything about his eating habits.

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    • Realist says:

      Yes. Kotchman has never played anything but 1B professionally, and he doesn’t have Wallace’s big butt.

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  4. drew says:

    Is Safeco friendly to LH hitters? Or does it not punish lefties as it does righties? I’ve always veiwed it as avg-ish to lefties, not particularly friendly. Am I off base?

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    • Bodhizefa says:

      It’s friendly to lefties. To righties, though, it’s absolutely punishing, especially for power.

      One of the few things Bavasi got right in his tenure was to think that Raul Ibanez’ swing was tailor-made for Safeco (he said as much in an interview once). It’s just too bad he didn’t understand how important it was to find other guys who, like Ibanez, were well-suited for Seattle’s park.

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    • joser says:

      Down the right field line, Safeco is as friendly to HR hitters as Coors is down its left field line. No, really. Even to right-center it’s as HR friendly as most “hitter friendly” parks are to left field. But to dead center and to LF it’s brutal. And the park suppresses hitting overall, so it’s not quite as LH friendly as those HR factors indicate (and the atmospheric factors, particularly in the first and last months of the season, can suppress things further) .

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    • Nathaniel Dawson says:

      Overall, it probably diminishes offense from left-handers, but not nearly as much as it affects right-handers. While no work to my knowledge has been done to examine the affects it has on different types of hitters (other than lefties or righties in a generic sense), it’s probable that lefties that can hit for a lot of power are actually helped by Safeco, while left-handers that are middling or fairly weak power hitters are probably hurt some. A guy like Branyan should benefit from Safeco, someone like Kotchman, maybe not.

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  5. kinbote says:

    Any comps between Kotchman and Loney? I personally like Loney but some are calling this a crucial year for his career arc.

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  6. MBD says:

    Seattle has to be saving money on this deal, or I don’t see how it makes sense. Kotchman cannot be Plan A at first. For a team that needs offense to settle for a first baseman with a below-average bat is suicide. I think they must be saving some money for a run at Branyan or Delgado. I believe Branyan was their third-most productive position player last year, measured by WAR, after Gutierrez and Ichiro. Branyan was almost a 3-win player and could improve his average (surprise!) defense at 1st now that he has a year under his belt. Of course, he could also get worse.

    Kotchman seems very unlikely to contribute 3 wins; he doesn’t get on base or hit for power, and his career BABIP (in 1871 PAs) is .279, which suggests that all those ground balls he hits don’t find holes.

    Delgado is a power-hitting lefty who may be desperate to get enough ABs to reach 500 HRs and to prove he can come back from injury. With Kotchman in place as a fall-back plan, Seattle can negotiate with Delgado, Branyan, or whomever and claim they’ll go with defense if they don’t get the right price.

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  7. Jayson says:

    I don’t think this deal is going to be earth-shattering one way or the other. Still, I can’t help but think that maybe – just maybe – Jack Z is letting his “Defense GM” title go to his head. Yes, you can win with defense. That doesn’t mean every player you acquire has to be the positional equivalent of Rey Ordonez. Holy cow.

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  8. Bill Andrews says:

    What I don’t see anybody stating is the obvious- Kotchman is a much better player than Hall. He is a very good defensive 1B and a solid backup. Hall can’t do anything but strikeout. Now for the Sox (assuming they trade Lowell) if either Beltre or Youkilis gets hurt, then Martinez goes to 1B and Varitek has to go in every day. Yikes!

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  9. rotofan says:

    The Mariners were not going to-resign Branyan. As Dave speculated correctly after Seattle signed Griffey and traded for Milton Bradley, Jack Z was not going to depend upon a third player who was a major injury risk, especially with Jack Wilson already injury-prone.

    Being injury-adverse also meant steering clear or Glaus.

    I’m sure the Mariners would have preferred Lyle Overbay as more of a power bat (compared to Kotchman) in a lineup with great on-base guys but not many thumpers. But my guess is the Blue Jays had no interest in Bill Hall and instead wanted something Seattle didn’t want to give up, likely top prospects.

    It’s true Kotchman isn’t likely to improve much though he should benefit from the short right field porch in Safeco – I could see him hitting 16 to 20 homers. But if his ceiling is low, his floor is knowable and passable, an advantage the alternatives didn’t offer.

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    • joser says:

      I think his ceiling might be higher than you give him credit for, with a chance to break out — raise his BABIP, put some balls into gaps for extra bases and a few over the wall. I don’t know what that chance is, and it’s likely low, but it’s non-zero.

      Totally agree about the floor, though, and the aversion to injury risk when contemplating some of the other choices. There’s some performance risk with Kotchman, but the less risky (or just higher-performing baseline) choices were, as you say, likely too expensive.

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  10. joser says:

    In Kotchman’s best year so far (’07) his .362 wOBA was pretty comparable to the .368 Branyan posted last year. Of course it’s unwise to assume Kotchman can be as good as his best year, though he’s still young and developing so it is at least possible. His BABIP seems strangely low (even setting aside the absurd value he posted in his mono-depleted 2006) but he could just be one of those guys. On the other hand, he could still put it together and grasp his early promise. He’s younger and cheaper than most of the other options, and for a rebuilding team with nothing to lose like the ’09 Mariners he would be a great “buy low” candidate. But the stakes are far higher for the “one year to win with Cliff & Felix” team this year, and that makes Kotchman a much riskier choice as the everyday 1B.

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  11. Ty says:

    Am I the only one that can’t find a decent article outlining this move? With the start of the article “With the rumored acquisition of Casey Kotchman…” I knew I was missing something.

    I’m not dissing this article, this one is just aimed at the chances of Kotchman’s career continuing past this year.

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  12. Basil Ganglia says:

    Let’s take a deep breath here. We’ve got a 28-year old, former first round pick. Looked like great prospect in the minors, but has struggled to be anything better than a journeyman in the majors. Multiple teams have given up on him.

    Finally in what looks like his last chance to salvage something of his potential, the Red Sox deal him to the Mariners in what is essentially a swap of unneeded parts.

    David Aardsma – welcome to Seattle.

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  13. Judy says:

    You guys can have Jason Varitek back now.

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  14. MC says:

    I really don’t really see this from the original author’s, or most of these comments’ point of view.

    First of all, assuming the prospect isn’t anything too special, the M’s gave up Bill Hall, who has very little if any value except as a utility player, possibly. I think Seattle is also sending like $1-2 million over. OK so Casey makes $5M or whatever next year. Big deal.

    Second, and most important, Casey is an excellent player. I watched some of his highlights on mlb.com, and they are superb; it’s pretty clear that he’s an excellent defensive first baseman, and I think he’ll make that whole infield defense better.

    As for his offense, is it really that bad? I really don’t think so. If Casey was an average or slightly below average defender, and instead had a 0.815 OPS year in and year out, would you still call him a bad player? Probably not.

    2007 OPS: 0.839
    2008 OPS: 0.738
    2009 OPS: 0.721

    They are going down but that doesn’t necessarily signify a trend. Every player has an off year once in a while. If he was 34 years old, maybe. But this guy is 26.

    I like what Z’s done, but not because it’s been Z that’s been doing it, i.e. I am pretty against the League deal.

    This is just a STEAL for the M’s, and it will give Casey, a very talented player who IMO really does not get the respect as a player that he deserves, a chance to play every day and be a valuable member of that ballclub. I really do think this is just a great deal for the M’s, especially considering that they gave up next to nothing.

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    • TheQuestforMerlin says:

      He’s an excellent defender, at the least important defensive position in the infield.

      He main calling card is is low K rate, at roughly 10/11% of his at bats, which is great however he has found it increasingly difficult to convert his grounders (many are pulled, weak and to the 1B) to hits (as demonstrated by a diminishing BA).

      In the minors what kept him a top prospect for the Angels was his great plate discipline, coupled with a strong BA. Power was expected to develop, but he was never considered a candidate to explode for 30 home runs, a top end estimate was more like 20. However he had health issues whilst a minor leaguer with the Angels, a trend that continued in the majors.

      So the power hasn’t developed (he would need to adjust his GB/FB tendencies), he has little speed and his strong minor league BABIP has not translated in the majors.

      This is not a steal for the Mariners, and the fact they gave up next to nothing does not make Kotchman a better alternative than, say Branyan (although it should be noted, Bill Hall is not next to nothing, he put up 2 more valuable years in 2005/6 and has trended downwards, similar to Kotchman actually).

      Where Kotch falls, is comparatively with other 1B around the AL, traditionally (even more so last year) where teams plug in one of their strongest hitters. Kotchman, unfortunately, is one of the weakest offensive 1B out there. And it pains me to write that, as I love the guy. I was lukewarm on him as an Angel prospect, but loved his demeanor and his father works for the Angel organization so he was part of the furniture (as an Angel fan).

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    • MC says:

      Merlin yes I definitely see your point of view; I, too generally like first basemen with pop.

      Yes I liked Branyan also – maybe he wants a lot of $ because he’s coming off a great year? Don’t know.

      In any case, I’m really not sure that I agree that 1B is an unimportant defensive position. After all, first, you have the 3B, 2B, and SS throwing to you all of the time; second, a good 1B can be a big factor in turning double plays also (as much as 2B/SS); third, 1B can rob doubles which 2B and SS cannot do. I think it’s one of those positions where it doesn’t seem important until you get a terrible defender or you really get to see what a great defender can do.

      I looked at CK’s highlights on mlb.com and this guy did some things that I don’t see too many first basemen, even so-called good defensive third basemen do: (1) rob doubles down the line; (2) rob singles in the hole; (3) start double plays that other guys wouldn’t be able to start; (4) be aggressive and nail down guys trying to take extra bases, in that case, a guy trying to score. CK seems to have a strong and accurate arm.

      I understand and agree that he doesn’t hit for home run power; that’s not his game and I think that’s OK. Otherwise, you’re basically saying that unless you can slug .500, you don’t deserve to be a 1B in baseball and I don’t think that’s fair. Also, all of these guys on here are looking at his last 2 years and saying this guy doesn’t deserve to start? On any team? Because of 2, not even terrible, but average, offensive seasons?

      Actually CK reminds me most of Doug Mientkiewicz, who played for the Mets for about a year. I wasn’t that impressed with Doug but the Mets did allow only 648 runs that year. With the M’s defense and pitching, if they score 750 runs next year, they should win that division.

      The other thing that’s interesting to me anyway is I think this has the potential of really solidifying that infield defense. What I mean is: maybe Figgins and Wilson will be able to make better plays because they have someone on the other end to clean up their mistakes. I saw this dynamic somewhat when the Mets had that terrific infield defense of Olerud, Ventura, and Alfonso and I really don’t think these sorts of things can be quantified.

      Hall did have some good seasons but in the last 2 he just completely fell off a cliff and has ceased being a major league level player. Yes maybe he still has a place on a major league roster, but not as a starting first baseman which I think Kotchman is.

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      • MBD says:

        This baiting is just goofy. You are either a troll or have been totally bamboozled by announcer-speak. Did you really say you watched highlights? (Too bad he didn’t play 1-2 seasons with the Mets.) His OPS dropped 100 points in 2008 when he got more PAs and stayed down in 2009 but that’s not a trend? He’s got a strong arm? He’ll make the infielders better by cleaning up their mistakes? Hitting for power is not his game? Is getting on base his game then (career OBP of .337)? It’s not “fair” to expect a 1b to slug around .500? Is it fair to hate Mike Cameron for no reason?

        His 2008 and 2009 campaigns did not produce average offense
        *for a first baseman*. His OPS was better than only Ishigawa and Wigginton in 2009 and Butler (really a DH in 08), Millar, Sexson, and Bowker in 2008. Even if we use WAR, which includes his defense, he ranks about 25th among first basemen in 2009.

        He’s not an excellent player. All those plays and PAs that don’t appear in highlights count, too. He might snap out of it, but nothing you mention is evidence that he is likely to be any better than he has been so far – barely above replacement level.

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      • TheQuestforMerlin says:

        Don’t get me wrong MC, i’m not saying Kotch has no value. Nor am I saying that if you don’t slug .500 you shouldn’t be a 1st baseman.

        I just don’t think it’s a smart move for the Mariners to make. Many commentators can point out the relative value of his talent compared to his contract, I prefer to focus on his output in the context of the Mariners team and amongst 1st basemen in the AL.

        On the Angels, his lack of power was tolerated because we *believed* we had power and a high OBP invested in other areas (Macpherson, Guererro, G Anderson, Napoli etc). Indeed Kotchman would fit on a current team like the Red Sox precisely because of the strength of their offense in other areas. As the Angels were wrong on the power of their team, we moved him for Teixeira whilst his value was still perceived as high. Great move. We also had Morales waiting in the wings (highly rated by the Angels coaches/scouts).

        Now the Mariners don’t have the depth of power/OBP spread amongst their team. For a team that only allowed 692 runs scored last year (one of the strongest in the majors, and a team high for the past 5 years) they really needed to add ‘production’. They scored 640 runs last year. Paltry. So at 1B they have released Branyan (one of their brightest players last year) and downgraded offensively at one of the spots open for them to bring in production (Delgado, Branyan, Luke Scott etc). This will put a lot of pressure to manufacture runs (NL style small ball) and on Milton Bradley to post good numbers.

        When you have one of the worst offensive 1B in the AL, you better be able to say, ‘but look, we have an awesome SS’ for example. The Mariners were already elite on defense, the marginal upgrade that Kotchman offers in this department fogs their desperate need for more offense, more power.

        Luckily, 1B are players that often become available around the trade deadline, and if there’s one really good thing about Jack Z (I personally believe his off-season moves this winter have been mixed) is that he’s very willing to make moves and he’s savvy enough to extract value. The fact that he’s picking up undervalued assets like Kotchman (and his doubles potential and strong defense) is very interesting in the context of future trades. However it is not, in the context of immediete production.

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      • MC says:

        Merlin, point taken, and we shall see. If nothing else, the 2010 M’s will be an interesting case study, because I cannot remember off the top of my head any team that has been structured with defense so primarily in the forefront. I guess it will be a case study on whether that kind of team can succeed.

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      • MC says:

        MBD, I don’t hate Mike Cameron for no reason – I hate him because he’s a crap player. And he’s getting paid $8M/year, which is like 3X what Kotchman got paid this year. And he’s 37, etc., etc.

        Obviously the numbers are important but sometimes they don’t tell the whole story, and I think highlights are not completely devoid of information.

        The guy is 26 – he will be entering his prime, and you want to cut him loose? That’s a pretty short term oriented point of view.

        I don’t give a **** if I’m a troll – I’m only posting on here because I’m on my winter break.

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      • MBD says:

        It’s too bad, because you could learn a lot from this site:

        1) Mike Cameron is not a crap player. He is a very good player, performing well at a position where good defense is worth a lot more than at 1b (1.5 wins more). He has been underpaid throughout his career, including the 2 years he spent with the Mets ($17M of value for $11.6M in salary). His WAR of 4 from just 2009 is over twice Kotchman’s contribution from the last 2 years combined. And Cameron has averaged almost 4 WAR over the last 8 years.

        2) “Good defense” isn’t worth the same at all positions just because announcers call it by the same name. And defense isn’t half of a player’s contribution just because we all use the offense/defense dichotomy. You have to quantify “good” and adjust for position. Kotchman’s defense is not good *enough* to overcome the positional adjustment (-12.5 runs), so he needs to contribute more with his offense than average. He did that once, and it was 3 years ago. See point 5.

        3) Kotchman will be making $4-$5M *this* season, so let’s compare apples. Last season, Cameron’s play was worth 5 times as much as Kotchman’s, and he only got paid about 3.5 times as much.

        4) Highlights, although fun to watch, are a biased and really small sample of a player’s work. Yes, numbers can be manipulated but not nearly as much as highlight reels can. Numbers tell you whether the player’s beautiful skills amount to anything and whether he can repeat them throughout the season. Saying numbers don’t tell you everything doesn’t mean that the random non-numbers (anecdotes, conventional wisdom) that one cites are adding something significant.

        5) Kotchman will be 27 in February (since we’re being fair and Cameron turns 37 tomorrow). He’s had the equivalent of 3 full seasons and is going backwards. No one is saying cut him loose, just that he’s not an “excellent player” and doesn’t hit well enough to be a starting first baseman. A team that starts him at 1b is giving away the opportunity to score more runs for a slight improvement on defense. For example, Kotchman’s defense in 2009 was worth 2 runs more than Youkilis’s and 3 runs more than Morales’s (by UZR; they’re the next 2 players on the defensive rankings) but his offense was worth 45 runs less than Youk’s and 31 runs less than Kendry’s (measured by wRAA). The vast majority of first basemen produce so much more than Kotchman with the bat that his defense couldn’t possibly make up for it.

        6) Just because Kotchman is young and *might* improve does not mean that he is *more likely* to play better than other options. The Mariners need to go with the player who is most likely to produce for the best price. Maybe that’s Kotchman, but that means the other options are poor, not that he’s excellent.

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      • MC says:

        I can learn a lot from this site? Doubtful but maybe. But I sure as hell can’t learn a damn thing from reading YOUR comments on this site. A lot of folks on this site have an incredible knack for throwing up numbers like shit to a wall and hoping that they’ll stick. I wonder if you’ve ever even taken a statistics course? Never mind.

        1) I don’t give a flying **** how many WAR’s Cameron is “worth”, he’s not an $8M player.

        2) Positional adjustment my ass. (I can’t respond to your comment if you just post a number with nothing to back it up). You’re basically saying, if you take the same EXACT player, and all you do is move him to a different position, you can increase his value? (i.e. take Kotchman, put him at SS, and his value would increase because SS is a more “important” defensive position than 1B). OK…doesn’t make much sense to me but I won’t completely rule it out.

        3) Again laughable, IMO. You think you’re the only one who knows about this? Why don’t you think anyone else signed Cameron to that kind of money? Is there a conspiracy against him?

        4) Again you really can’t back this up. It’s just your opinion, as I have mine.

        5) See #4. It’s your OPINION that he’s going backwards. I don’t know why you keep trying to push it that this is FACT. Also you have to keep in mind (1) 2 seasons is a pretty small sample size; (2) this kid got traded practically every 2 months; (3) he didn’t play every day in Boston.

        6) Casey is pretty darn excellent for the price paid, whether that’s his likely salary for next year, or what was given up in the trade. 2 words: Bill Hall.

        Don’t be a pompous asshole. If you want to post a comment, do so, but don’t act like you’re a spoiled teenage girl when you do so. If I wanted to be talked down to, I’d go talk to one of my professors.

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      • MBD says:

        People will talk down to you if you sprinkle your posts with cliches (initial comment) or profanity, nonsensical sexism, and name-calling (last reply) and never cite any evidence, except maybe the OPS trend that undermined your point. Although you passive-aggressively “asked” whether I had taken statistics and then cleverly took it back, I’ll tell you anyway; I took two courses in grad school.

        But it’s not about you vs. me. The list I sent was meant to be things we can all learn from the numbers, articles, commenters, and philosophy of this great site. If you take everything personally and refuse to acknowledge holes in your knowledge or understanding, you are denying yourself access to information that no one else could keep from you.

        Taking the list from the top:
        1) You make an assertion without evidence. This will not serve you well in life.
        2) No, that’s not what positional adjustments mean. They are meant to indicate the relative difficulty of positions. If Kotchman moved to short, his defense would likely worsen by about 20 runs (+7.5 minus -12.5). See? You learned something. Check the glossary for more. That way you won’t say that I’m posting numbers with nothing to back them up (funny wording); we’re all assuming a certain level of familiarity with these ideas so that our comments don’t run for pages.
        3) Cameron was underpaid because defense was undervalued (and strikeouts were over-penalized). No market is perfectly efficient.
        4) It’s not an opinion that highlights are a small, non-random sample. The name itself indicates that the plays included are a subset of the population chosen for showing the player at his best and that no attempt is made to be thorough or representative. Have you taken a statistics course? Do you believe that the people putting the reels together want to educate us more than they want to entertain us?
        5) It’s not an opinion that Kotchman is going backwards. Everyone on earth, including Kotchman himself, would agree that his play was not as good in 2008 and 2009 as it was in 2007. The OPS numbers you cite demonsrate the point. BTW, OPS is not a great stat, since it overstates the importance of slugging relative to OBP. You seem to be confused about what an opinion is. See point 1 again. In any case, my main point was that Kotchman is not an excellent player, and I produced evidence. Where is yours? And don’t say 1,000 PAs is a small sample for offensive statistics; that’s simply not true.
        6) Here are some more words: player to be named later and we don’t know how much money the M’s are sending with Hall. Again you say Casey is excellent with no evidence. That’s your (uninformed) opinion, and this is not a popularity contest. Make better arguments with less rhetoric and more evidence, and people will take you more seriously.

        Been fun. Good luck in school.

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      • Nathaniel Dawson says:

        MC, uh……..wow. I don’t even know where to begin.

        But I’m going to keep it simple. MBD’s response to you was critical, but it was made without rancor or animosity or insults. Yours were not. Whether or not you agree with his reasoning, he did a very good job of explaining it given the limits of a comment section such as this. He can’t write a book.

        Your opinions and comments aren’t taken seriously if you present them in such an immature manner.

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    • Nathaniel Dawson says:

      My only quibble with what you wrote is that I’m not certain that it’s only going to be 1 or 2 million that the M’s will be sending Boston. If that is indeed true, you’re absolutely right, it would be a steal for the M’s. My hunch is that it’s going to be a lot more than that. Because we haven’t seen any firm figures reported on the amount Seattle is sending, I suspect it may hinge on how much Kotchman signs for.

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  15. crix says:

    I agree that Kotchman could have some good upside with his defense and OB%, after all that is what Z has been after from the get-go, guys that get on base and play good D. As for Branyan, I think Z doesn’t want to take a risk with Russell’s back which made him miss about 1/4 of the season last year. (I hope Jack is making the right decision.)

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  16. Larry Smith Jr. says:

    I’ve been singing Jack Z’s praises as high as anyone this off-season. To the extent that the Mariners are quickly becoming my “B” team for 2010. While this doesn’t seem to me to be a bad move, I don’t see a reason for this to be celebrated along with many of his others. I can see where it could potentially work out very well, if Kotchman regains the level of performance that made him a celebrated prospect……..or for that matter, even if he’s league average. On its face though, I don’t see how this move can be seen as anything more than “blah” at best and a moderate downgrade at 1B at worst.

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  17. Kirk says:

    I’m guessing that all of the money that Milwaukee sent to Seattle with Hall goes to Boston. And I’m guessing that Kotchman gets less than 5M in arb. There is no reason for Boston to do this deal unless they are saving money. Seattle at least gets a mediocre startable player out of the deal.

    All in all
    bill hall costs around 2M (including option buyout and MIL money)
    Kotchman costs 4M-ish

    So seattle got it’s starting 1Bman for around 2-3M. He might not be good but that is a pretty good value with no multi-year commitment. And I do think they are done (at 1B/DH) since they also have Saunders to work into the LF/DH mix with Bradley and Griffey (not to mention Carp).

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  18. The Bunk says:

    Some serious ball washing going on here for jack z, what an average move.

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  19. Alireza says:

    Its not really fair to call Kotchman injury-prone. He got mono, which is incredibly unlucky and then got nailed square in the head by a Russell Martin pick off throw at 2B that screwed him for about 1/4 of 2007. What really seems to have disappeared is his discipline. He still has great contact skills, but he doesn’t walk enough. There is no doubt he can crush a ball, because he does when he gets a hold of one. What he really seems to need is someone to tell him that just because he can make contact with almost any pitch, doesn’t mean it is good contact.

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  20. rico petrocelli says:

    Why’dthe Sox trade LaRoche for him inthe first place?

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