The Brendan Ryan Trade: Mariners Perspective

The Seattle Mariners of 2010 are known for their offensive incompetence, and rightly so. The team managed a mere 3.2 runs per game and a paltry 80 wRC+, both league worst marks. Truly the lack of offense was the Mariners’ failure, but even the run prevention of the team – its supposed hallmark – was only average, with a 4.3 runs allowed per game ranking 14th in the majors and 6th in the AL. Their team defense ranked 5th in the majors in Defensive Efficiency Rating- good, but not the elite, potentially best-of-all-time defensive unit advertised beforethe season. On Sunday, the Mariners added Brendan Ryan, an elite defender at the shortstop position whose bat, although light, may be an improvement as well. In exchange, the Mariners sent right handed A-ball reliever Maikel Cleto to St. Louis.

A pair of J. Wilson’s manned the position for the Mariners last season, and neither did their job at a passable level. Both managed to post only a 64 wRC+. Jack has consistently been of the better defenders at the position, and TZ, DRS, and the FSR all agreed that he still was solid and possibly even elite in 2010. But the solid defense only mattered when he was able to take the field. Leg and back injuries have marred much of Jack Wilson‘s career, and those combined with a fractured hand suffered late in the season combined to keep Wilson out of 101 games. Josh Wilson, meanwhile, brings nothing more than Jack with the bat and none of the glove, with negative ratings from all of our defensive metrics at SS for his career.

Although Ryan’s glove might not be demonstrably better than Jack Wilson’s, the 28 year old (29 on opening day) Ryan should have a much easier time of remaining on the diamond. Ryan’s only two DL stints came on a rib injury and a hamstring injury (source), and none of those appear to be lingering, as Ryan was completely off the injured list in 2010.

The real reason that Ryan was jettisoned out of St. Louis is likely a lack of confidence in his bat. His 2010 was poor, as Ryan only managed a .223/.279/.294 line. Although that line is horrendous, the shortstop position is important enough where even performing at a AAA level can result in solid production. Using Ryan’s +11 UZR, he comes out to a 1.0 WAR player last year despite his offensive struggles; using his +15 TZ or his +27 DRS would result in 1.4 or 2.6 WAR respectively.

So, if Ryan’s bat recovers at all – something in the range of his career .259/.314/.344 line – the Mariners will be receiving a productive player. Ryan should be good for 2 WAR on a yearly basis, thanks to his excellent glove skills, with some upside in his bat. Some people might be disappointed, as this move is similar to some of the other moves by Jack Zduriencik which resulted in the horrific 2010 season at Safeco. But it’s just hard to find a downside here. Ryan’s bat is likely better than either of the Wilson duo, and his defensive wizardry doesn’t come with Jack’s durability issues. Ryan is a solid asset for this team as well, with three years of team control remaining. Cleto, the prospect heading to St. Louis, is a high-risk project at least two or three years from the majors who seems destined for the bullpen. This trade is simply an all around win for the Mariners, who improve at a premium position for the foreseeable future at little cost.




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72 Responses to “The Brendan Ryan Trade: Mariners Perspective”

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  1. Ryan says:

    As a fan of the Cardinals I am sorry to see him go. It’s likely his offensive value is somewhere between his awful 2010 and his surprising 2009. He also had wrist issues in last year’s offseason, and had to have wrist surgery right before Spring Training.

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  2. neuter_your_dogma says:

    So Seattle goes from a 59-103 X WL to 61 or 62?

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  3. pft says:

    The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    The Mariners need good hitters to drive guys like Figgins and Ichiro in. Guys like Cust and Ryan don’t help much offensively.

    2010 was not bad luck Jack, it was bad hitting in a bad lineup. Get off the sauce.

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    • Jimbo says:

      The M’s have major budgetary constraints, is that the sauce you’re talking about?

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    • Steve says:

      I don’t disagree with the overall sentiment, but Cust can hit. Not sure where that is coming from.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      Wrong wrong wrong wrong. Holy shit this is laughably wrong.

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    • philosofool says:

      Jack Wilson is a $5m/year, aging, injury liable, defenisive wiz with no bat.

      Brendan Ryan is a ~$1m/year, 29 year old, healthy, defensive wiz with no bat.

      What about this is doing the same thing? Ryan is the sort of inexpensive player you can afford to sign and move to a bench role if and when the team contends. Wilson is an unmovable contract and money suck.

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    • J says:

      Name a better shortstop thats available. The Mariners needed to upgrade SS and this is probably the best possible upgrade. Elite guys that drive in runs from SS like Tulo or Ramirez just never hit the trade or FA market.

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    • waynetolleson says:

      It’s kinda funny how people worship the ground Jack Zduriencik walks on because he’s fond of SABR. The 2010 Mariners were a 61-101 team that was LAST IN ALL OF BASEBALL, INCLUDING THE NATIONAL LEAGUE, in runs scored. They were last in the AL in runs scored in 2009.

      The big additions, so far, have been Jack Cust and Brendan Ryan. When you’re a team that has had as much trouble scoring runs as the Mariners, bringing in a career .245 hitter who’s a strikeout machine and spent time in the minors last season, and a slick-fielding shortstop with a career .658 OPS, cannot be viewed as “a win” for the Mariners.

      I understand Zduriencik faces challenges, monetary and otherwise, in Seattle. Let’s not, however, act as though these moves are more in a long line of stunning successes for the Mariners. This team stunk last year, and Jack Cust and Brendan Ryan aren’t going to do nearly enough to put this team back on a winning track.

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      • v-Skippy says:

        Let’s accept your all caps rant…so what should the M’s do?

        I would say this is exactly the kind of move a team who lost 100+ games should do. Signing a hundred million dollar contract with the uber free agent of the day is not going to put a 100 loss team in the playoffs so the GM must be an incrementalist. Improve the farm system, improve the depth, improve the major league talent, maintain/improve payroll flexibility, these are the things a GM for a 100 loss team should do. This move has little loss of depth and immediate on field gain so I do not see how it can be viewed as anything but a win even if the 21 year old “arm” learns how to pitch and becomes a solid player.

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      • chris d says:

        Jack Z had his hands tide last year. He was required (speculation) to bring on Griffey and players did not produce. You can continue to blame him and if team does turn around 2011 will you continue your stance?

        As a Mariner fan I am so grateful we have Jack at the helm…its the players he develops and acquires which will make a difference either this year or next.

        Who would you put on the M’s roster at SS?

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  4. bsizzle says:

    I could hardly call this an “all around win” for the M’s. Isn’t this basically parity? Or a slight bump above parity? I don’t see how this is anything but a completely inconsequential move.

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    • NBarnes says:

      The Ms had someone other than Jack Wilson at SS for 101 games last year. Now they have Ryan to use there instead, who is a lot better than replacement level. Picking up 1.5 wins or so at the cost of a pretty fringy A-ball pitcher is not inconsequential.

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      • fredsbank says:

        but what’s really the difference between a 59 win team and a 61 win team

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      • Travis says:

        @fredsbank about 2 wins. Should teams not try to improve just b/c they probably aren’t going to compete? There’s still value in winning ballgames.

        fredsbank says:
        >but what’s really the difference between a 59 win team and a 61 win team

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      • fredsbank says:

        of course they should try to improve, but shouldnt they be looking for improvement in an area that they desperately need improvement in, ie, anything offensive? and brendan ryan is as useless offensively as he is awesome defensively. and if his glove gets them a win or two, well, they’re still the worst team in the league, and still only the pirates are worse in the NL. the difference between the 2010 mariners losing 100 games and the 2011 mariners being legitimate contenders wont be brendan ryan.

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      • JAH says:

        @fredsbank Two assumptions you make. First, that the line up will make a repeat of a almost historically bad year. That no players will have bounce back years. That is a big assumption to make. Griffey, Jose Lopez, and Rob Johnson aren’t going to be even there.

        Two, that they could have somehow aquired some offensive monster. With the amount they could spend and with how crazyflakes the free agent market is, there was no way they were going to sign some big splash hitter. And we don’t know what they could get on the trade block. Nobody wants a rehash of the Erik Bedard trade. I mean, for God’s sake people are getting up in arms about Maikel Cleto. What happens when they trade somebody actually good?

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      • v-Skippy says:

        They should be looking to improve wins. If wins come via pitching, defense or offense they will all count the same.

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  5. Rob says:

    It doesn’t really matter, Ryan is a stopgap for Ackley. Once Ackley is up, Ryan and Wilson will likely share time at SS. Ryan may even halp out at 3b. He becomes a very useful utility player at little cost. The Mariners future will likely be up together in May. Ackley, Smoak, Saunders, and maybe even Pineda. The M’s may not get much more in the win column, but at least they’ll be worth watching, just to see those guys play together.

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    • Steven says:

      This is the true answer. Ryan gives the Mariners a temporary starting second baseman to replace Jose Lopez, and can also replace Jack Wilson when he goes on the DL.

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    • nomar34 says:

      If Ryan is on the field it should be at SS. Anywhere else and you are losing his value.

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      • Dann M. says:

        Yes, he really should be the shortstop for Seattle. But unfortunately, he has played 2B in his career, while Jack Wilson is purely a shortstop. Either way, their offensive production will resemble that of a late 80s middle infield. As a Cubs fan, I have to ask what LaRussa and STL are thinking bringing in a singles hitter with poor range and weak arm like Theriot to replace Ryan at shortstop. While Theriot is a “better” hitter, that’s one of those World’s Tallest Midget comparisons.

        Seattle badly needs to improve its offense, but shortstop is not an easy position at which to do it. Consider that only 3 qualified shortstops (Tulowitzki, Hanley, and Stephen Drew) surpassed .330 in wOBA in 2010, with Reyes, Castro, Alexei, Jeter and Uribe rounding out the list above .320.

        The next step is to recognize the twofold defensive upgrade that the Ryan acquisition allows: they slide Figgins’ -12.3 UZR at 2B in 2010 back to 3B, where his UZR/150 in both 2008 and 2009 was about +18. Even if Figgins experiences only a minor bounceback offensively, he’s a major 3B upgrade over Lopez and an addition by subtraction from 2B.

        Between the Olivo/Moore situation at catcher, Saunders/Bradley in left, and Smoak getting first to himself, Seattle is still going to be a terrible offensive team. It’ll be another year where King Felix’s numbers will have to overcome his W/L “results” to compete for another Cy Young. It’ll be another step in Jack Z’s experimental direction, sure, but not one likely to be .500 or above.

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      • Nathaniel Dawson says:

        The M’s aren’t losing his value if his skills translate to second. There is little difference in the number of defensive opportunities between second and short.

        (This next statement is predicated on Figgins moving to third, which is what I’m guessing the M’s will do). The real question is which is the better configuration: Jack Wilson at second and Brendan Ryan at short, or the other way around. Maybe the M’s give that a look in Spring Training, but my guess is that they’ll put the guy at second who’s had big-league experience there (Ryan), and leave Wilson at short.

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  6. CircleChange11 says:

    I know the comments from Cardinals’ FO is likely about the offense side of the ball, but StL has ALWAYS been a team that keeps an poor hitter if they are a good fielder. It was like that with Whitey Herzog, and it’s still there with Dave Duncan.

    Last year we saw the very visual dugout scene where CC29 was all over Ryan for [1] grabbing the wrong glove and taking it into the field and [2] farting around & jockeying with the runner and then being out of position for what could have been an inning-ending DP. That was probably not an isolated case, just one that we all saw.

    I like Ryan, and think he’s due for a slight rebound at the plate. I think he might also be a candidate for “defensive metric re-examination” though, since almost all of his value is from defense. I’d be curious as to what a combination of advanced metrics & scouting have to say about the current version of Ryan?

    StL has always been a “defense fitrst” team up the middle” (C-SS-CF), and that philosophy has usually been a big advantage. If Ryan were still viewed to be a really good to great defender, i could not see StL letting him go, let alone for such little value.

    [1] I think banking on Ryan to be league average (2 WAR) annually is a stretch.
    [2] I know Sea must be looking at UZR and thinking it’s getting a steal here. That’s only true if UZR is highly accurate. I’m not convinced, but open to the idea.
    [3] I’m surprised StL did not use theis situation to acquire Jack Wilson. StL has always seemed to regret trading Wilson for Christiansen, and JW’s name is always rumored to return to StL. As I said before, StL values defense, almost exclusively, up the middle.

    To me, there’s caution flags all around Ryan, both visual and stats-based. Looking at SEA’s current team and I think Ryan has more potential to compound their problem than improve it.

    A light hitting guy whose primary value is defense, and whose individual WAR is highly-based on advanced defense metrics being accurate.

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    • philosofool says:

      “I know Sea must be looking at UZR and thinking it’s getting a steal here. That’s only true if UZR is highly accurate. I’m not convinced, but open to the idea.”

      Why do you think Seattle uses UZR? For all we know, they have their own in-house metrics to grade defensive players, not to mention a pretty good scouting department.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Yeah, that was pretty dense thinking on my part.

        Really I was just thinking of why StL would trade Ryan, given that he is a good defender and they are a ground ball pitching staff.

        I think it makes far more sense that this could be placed in the “TLR doesn’t like him” category. He does love him some Skip, and Skip was just as bad at the plate as Ryan, while being worse in the field. But Skip will “bounce back” because of the whole “size of the fight in the dog” stuff.

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  7. Paul says:

    Wow, if they re-sign Kotchman that is going to be one incredible defense, especially with Olivo behind the plate, and don’t forget this moves Figgins back to 3B where his glove is plus. They are a Milton Bradley rebound away from contention, no?

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    • Steve says:

      I honestly can’t tell if this is serious or not.

      If the M’s start the season with Casey Kotchman at 1B in a winter with so many available options, they should be the #36 org.

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      • Paul says:

        I thought suggesting bringing Kotchman back would be the giveaway. But sarcasm that does not illustrate a point is no fun. In all seriousness, weren’t they projected for 81 wins last season based on a defense that was not this good? Very little has changed offensively, except that they filled a total and complete black hole at catcher with an almost total and complete black hole who will crush 25 solo homers next year. If I’m not mistaken, Lee was only projected to add 3 wins. And that was before the emergence of Fister, no pun intended, and Vargas. I actually think expectations are too low based on last year’s disaster. But they still suck.

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    • The Ancient Mariner says:

      Justin Smoak is expected to be at 1B on opening day.

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    • Jim says:

      Heh.

      Casey Kotchman was outrighted to AAA back in late October/early November and–after he refused the outright assignment–became a free agent.

      With a clear upgrade obtained in the Cliff Lee trade last summer in Justin Smoak, why would they want to retain Kotchman?

      Oh…I get it. That was sarcasm. Really, really, really bad sarcasm, but still sarcasm. Yeah.

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  8. AA says:

    Having Ozzie Smith for 15 years skews that analysis a bit, now doesn’t it? Its not hard to say a team knows its defense when it employs the best defensive player ever for so long.

    Ryan’s ability at SS is confirmed not only by UZR, but by PM, TZ, RZR and even the Fans. Plus, his defensive prowess is constantly talked up by “old school” types. The Cards dumped him because his bat completely collapsed last year and they have no offense outside of 1B and LF.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Maybe I am over-stating the ineffectiveness of the StL SS’s at the plate, because Renteria had some really good seasons at the dish.

      The question I have about it is that the FO has said they expect a bounce-back from Skip (also horrible in 2010), but not Ryan, even though BR’s defense is FAR above Skip’s and at a more valuable defensive position. StL is not a team that has undervalued defense at SS, so I am wondering if this is the whole story.

      But basically, Ryan BABIP’d and defended his way to a 2.7 WAR season in 09. Given that his BABIP .332 (seems high for his batter type), and his defense was 8.4 runs.

      The next year he was worth 11.5 runs on D, and poor BABIP’d his way to a 1 WAR season.

      So, he’s probably worth 10 defensive runs (as a good bet). But, he’s got to BABIP his way to .300 to really get some decent value, and by decent I mean league average (~2 WAR).

      I love watching Ryan play defense. He starts out in shallow LF, attacks each GB, fielding it on the 3rd hop and with his body in position that that his momentum and throw are moving in the same direction as the base he’s throwing to. It’s beautiful.

      What other SS are availabe? StL just got rid of a +10 defender at a premium defensive position on a team that features ground balls in abundance.Seriously the success of Westbrook and Garcia is highly dependent on SS and 3B defense.

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  9. Purple_Haze says:

    No, the REAL reason Brendan Ryan was jettisoned was because of personality differences between him and LaRussa. The situation with LaRussa and his inability to get along with his players is getting to be completely unbearable and John Mozeliak is completely complicit. The whole organization is a mess and liable to completely sabotage itself in order to satisfy a few massive egos.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      This.

      IMO, there has to be more to the situation other than lack of offense.

      A ground ball dominant team just traded a really good defending SS when there does not seem to be really strong alternatives available.

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  10. camisadelgolf says:

    Trading Brendan Ryan had nothing to do with his bat. The Cardinals–both management and players–got sick of him and were practically willing to give him away. There’s a reason he was kicked off his college team multiple times, and there’s a reason he received discipline from the Cardinals multiple times: his lousy attitude. Even if my team’s biggest need were a shortstop, I would want Ryan nowhere near the roster despite him arguably being the most skilled shortstop available on the market.

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  11. SK says:

    So St. Louis wanted to get of Ryan, my only question is, why trading him for just a far away from the majors bullpen prospect. Shouldn’t they have gotten a bnetter return?

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Who else wanted Ryan? What did they offer?

      If you know that a better offer was available, let it be known.

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      • MUcards says:

        Just because there were no outstanding offers doesn’t mean you give away a cost controlled player for less than value. The twins were still looking for a SS, and worse case you have him on the bench for 400k and have insurance for 3b and SS. Now we’re relying on Tyler Greene who has at best a similar bat to ryan and nowhere close to the glove.

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      • WY says:

        I’m not happy that they traded Ryan, but I think Greene’s bat has more upside than Ryan’s. Which is not to say that he will reach that upside, of course. He certainly has more power potential.

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      • nomar34 says:

        @MUcards:

        at best Tyler Greene’s bat is a significant upgrade to Ryan’s because of +power for the position. His glove is not as at the same level but he has always been giving good remarks on his D and I would be willing to wager it is better than Theriot’s.

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      • Nathaniel Dawson says:

        MU, Brendan Ryan is going to cost close to $2M next year, not 400K. He’s in his first year of arbitration, and regardless of how he hit, having played 260 games the last two seasons will ensure him a raise to about that level.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I agree with you. I was just taking the “shouldn;t they have gotten better return?” as meaning that something was better out there.

        Like I said, Ryan is probably more valuable to the cradinals than he is any other team, given that Westbrook and garcia’s success is going to come from a high GB rate, and right along with that is Ryan, since Freese/Craig are going to be league average at best.

        That’s why I was thinking there had to be more to it that just his bad year with the bat. Surely, Dave Duncan knows the value of a good fielding shortstop with GB pitchers. That was a MAJOR part of StL’s success for years. John Tudor was awesome with Ozzie, not so much with the other two teams.

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      • BX says:

        Will he even get 2MM in arb? Considering what arb guys value, I don’t even think that’s a certainty.

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      • Nathaniel Dawson says:

        Yeah, that might be a little high. Going by the popular model, 1st year arb-eligibles get about 40% of what free agents get. For a 1 win player, that’s $1.8M using last year’s $/WAR. But being a very light-hitting fellow, he’s likely to be seen as not as valuable by independent arbitrators, so something more like 1.2 to 1.5 is probably closer to what he’ll eventually sign for.

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  12. Bob says:

    Other than Ryan’s career year in 2009, what in his historical stats makes people believe that he can even approach replacement level hitting in 2011? Excluding two 20 PA stops in the minors, his wOBA never got above 80. Knock that down for the majors, and you’re looking at a guy who’s -25 to -30 runs over a full season at the plate.

    Not exactly what the Mariners need unless they’re shooting for the #1 draft position in 2012.

    I guess the Mariners will next sign Nick Punto to play 3B, then move Figgins to 1B.

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    • The Ancient Mariner says:

      Well, the fact that his hitting last season was affected by wrist surgery, which probably helped produce his third-worst-in-the-majors .627 BA on line drives, offers reason to think he’ll hit better next year (assuming no recurrence of the wrist problem).

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    • MUcards says:

      He had a .253 BABIP last year, which is low for a slap hitter like ryan. He also had a wRC+ of 110 (200pa) in 07, and 99 in a full season in 09. those are both high for him, but realistically, and looking at his past numbers in AAA and the majors you can expect wRAA about a -8 to -10 (not sure where you are getting -30) with upside. Thats not much below avg for a SS, and add in his glove, which is top 3 in the majors, and you have a very good SS. But one that rubs “old-school” managers/players the wrong way.

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      • Bob says:

        Rough calc – Minors wOBA is around 75. So, if you use 2008 (wOBA of 69) as a proxy for Ryan’s true ability, then it’s -8.5 runs per 218 PA. Assume 600 PA per full season (which is actually a bit low for a full-time player), so multiply by 3 and you get -25.5.

        At 59 wOBA, he was -23.8 runs over 486 PA. Prorate to 600 and you get -29.4 runs.

        Assuming that he’s a bit better for 2011, then you might have -15 to -20 at the plate over a full season. I highly doubt he’s a league average hitter based on his age and historical stats – the James projection is probably as much as you can expect for 2011 – he’d have shown much more in the minors. Essentially, how much he’s worth boils down to his glove.

        For comparison, Jose Lopez at 68 wOBA was “worth” -23.4 runs over 622 PA.

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      • Nadingo says:

        So 2008 counts, but 2007 and 2009 don’t? Odds are he’s going to end up somewhere between 79 and 90 wRC+, good for -10 to -15 runs offensively over the course of a season. If he’s +5 to +15 defensively over that same stretch, then he’s close to an average MLB regular signed to a below-market-value contract. Not sure what the problem is there. Also – I don’t think it makes any sense to talk about “replacement-level hitting.” It’s total combined performance that can be compared to replacement-level players, not hitting or defense in isolation.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      Yeah let’s just ignore the entire season when he was a league average hitter. That’s totally the best way to project players (“it was an outlier so it should just be ignored going forward!”).

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  13. mymrbig says:

    Good move by the M’s. Cleto’s value has gone down significantly since they acquired him 2 years ago. Zero development the past two years.

    Ryan isn’t great, but he’s an average starter. He’ll be significantly undervalued (production to salary) because arbitration does not reward strong defenders. In 2011, he’ll be the starting 2B until Ackley is called up, then maybe sends Jack Wilson to the bench. He can then provide average-ish play at SS for cheap salary in 2012 and 2013 until the M’s can develop a more balanced SS from within (Nick Franklin? Marcus Littlewood? Gabriel Noriega?). Very good stop-gap acquisition so they don’t have to overpay and old guy like Jack Wilson, or run someone out who can’t hit or field (like Josh Wilson).

    Really, when the price is a low-A pitcher with no secondary pitches and little command/control, it is a move that makes great sense.

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  14. cpebbles says:

    Ryan is due to make around $1M as a first-year eligible. Certainly not too much to pay a utilityman with easy 2-win potential when your starting middle infield played at replacement level last year. This is 100% about ridding LaRussa of a player who irritated him. Before that angle spirals out of control, Ryan is a joker who refuses to take baseball as seriously as his coaches would like, not a sociopath.

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  15. MUcards says:

    I don’t know where everyone is getting this idea that Ryan would play 2b. He will likely be an average to slightly below average SS with the bat, but his glove is truly outstanding. He is not worth anything if you take his glove out of SS. Having watched him play over the past two years I can tell you that, not only the metrics, but the eye test shows Ryan is an above average SS, somewhere in the 2 to 3 WAR range would not surprise me. I agree with everything else you’re saying, but if they play him at 2b they are wasting any value he has. I hate this trade for the Cards because we got no return on his actual value (not his career worst year value).

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    • Jim says:

      The M’s have Dustin Ackley(drafted #2 overall in the 2009 MLB Draft behind Stephen Strasburg) ready to take over at 2B and no one else to play there to start the season since Jose Lopez was traded and Chone Figgins will have to go to 3B, so it stands to reason that with Jack Wilson at SS and Chone Figgins at 3B, Brendan Ryan will have to start the season at 2B.

      As mymrbig said above, after Dustin Ackley is recalled and Jack Wilson has established a few months of positive value in April, May, and June, the M’s can hopefully trade him for something and put Brendan Ryan at SS for the rest of 2011, 2012, and some of 2013 until someone like Nick Franklin is ready.

      Understand now? :)

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    • Nathaniel Dawson says:

      How would he have no value defensively at second? Because the shortstop position is the most premium defensive position, only the best defensive players play there. He’s being compared to some of the best defensive players in the game, and he ranks as one of the best of the best. If you take that great defensive shortstop and move him to second, a position manned by lesser talents, he becomes even that much better compared to his peers. If he’s great at shortstop, he should be almost other-wordly at second. That should provide a lot of value to a team, almost as much as he would at short.

      Not having played there as much as he has at short, there could be some reason to believe that he isn’t as well adapted to the position, but he’ll almost certainly be well above average there. The move shouldn’t affect his defensive value much at all.

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  16. JeremyR says:

    I don’t think his attitude is lousy, he’s just ADHD. He can lose focus at times.

    But simply put, he’s probably the flashiest defensive SS since Ozzie.

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  17. bookbook says:

    The M’s have been improving the defense, which helps, though no one thinks it makes a miracle. Cust is better than anything they put at DH, which helps but not too much. They need a major bounceback from Figgins and Gutierrez, solid adjustment & performance from Smoak and Saunders, & the much-vaunted arrival of Ackley to create a solid offense. I don’t think anyone’s planning on seeing Seattle in the playoffs in 2011, but building towards a strong core for 2012 is really all they can try to do in a near-certain rebuilding season.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      I think the M’s situation is a whole lot more overwhelming than they think. The improvements are easy to say (just get the offense to league average), but much tougher to do.

      [1] They were historically bad on offense. So bad that being termed “last in the AL” sounds like a compliment.
      [2] They are not likely to improve significantly on defense.
      [3] The pitching staff is already 4 WAR worse with the loss of Lee, despite being a highly ranked combo of pitching & defense in the AL.

      So, they basically need to find ~250 runs on offense to have a shot at competing … all the while not sacrificing defense and/or pitching AND replacing Lee’s 4 WAR.

      When you look at what needs to happen over the next season or three, it is very easy to feel overwhelmed. All of their prospects need to pay off big time, while they pick up commodities in the market for a low cost that will pay off significantly.

      Ackley and Smoak being the new Utley & Pujols would not even be enough. That’s how far the M’s, literally, are from competing.

      I feel for the club sincerely, because I think they literally thought they were “on to something”. Felix is signed through 2014. After that his 6WAR/y will be elsewhere. I mention that because the time they start to get it turned around, they’ll have to replace 6 more WAR, while keeping everything else going forward … and turning it around in 4 years would be a great accomplishment in itself.

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      • SteveS says:

        I think it’s worth the reminder that essentially the entirety of the M’s lineup had sub-projection seasons last year. This could easily be a product of a severely screwed-up organizational and development philosophy, but it’s also eminently possible that they just hit the Lottery Of Suck last year and had all the things that could go wrong, going wrong for them all at once. Just as nobody should have looked at the 2009 Ms and seen a team as good as their record, we should be careful about looking at the 2010 Ms and seeing a team as bad as their record.

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      • fred says:

        This “lottery of suck” theory cuts both ways – they were over .500 the year before with something like a -50 run differential, yet people were more than happy to use that baseline going into last year.

        Funny that folks weren’t as careful about looking at regressing the 2009 M’s when they were projecting 2010. (the added benefit is that 2010 seems like even more of an outlier due to the 2009 performances… the truth for both year is probably somewhere in between

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  18. algionfriddo says:

    The Mariners have a long journey ahead of them. Brenden Ryan is a step in the right direction… a very small step, but still… a step.

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  19. deadpool says:

    A WAR is a WAR, but honestly I think the effect Ryan’s departure has on STL is being overstated a bit. If Theriot allows 10 more runs than Ryan (probably about half as effective) then those are probably going to be spread pretty evenly among STL GB pitchers. So no P takes a significant hit. While it’s true an entire infield can make or break a fringe pitcher I think the effect of one guy is relatively minimal. That said, Theriot would have to hit at above league average to make the team better through his presence (or Greene), but this is still likely a lateral move for them.

    For the record, this is an argument I don’t see made in the battle of the WARs, buy is a sticking point for me, ERA based WAR has the potential to count defense twice at the team level if the poor defense leads to runs scoring without causing an error.

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  20. bookbook says:

    Ichiro, Figgins, Gutierrez, Smoak, Cust, Saunders, Olivo, Ryan, Wilson

    Swap in Ackley for Wilson halfway through the year.

    No one’s jumping up and down in excitement, but…

    On paper, that doesn’t look like an offense that’s 250 runs behind the 2nd worst offense in the AL.

    The most glaring hole is the lack of an adequate #3 hitter. Gutierrez is more of a #6

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  21. CircleChange11 says:

    On paper, that doesn’t look like an offense that’s 250 runs behind the 2nd worst offense in the AL.

    I said 250 runs because that amount gained would put them right about average (in the middle) in AL teams.

    * It should also be noted, that as many as perhaps 50 runs could be gained just simply from “regression to the mean” of their current players.

    Being ranked 6th-8th or so in offense combined with a top 4 in pitching gives them a shot at being competitive in their division (using SFG as a model).

    The problem as I have stated (probably too many times) is that pitching staff got 4 WAR less with the loss of Lee and the D is a year older. Replacing Lee’s 4 WAR in the rotation is not going to be any small task. They’re definitely not a top 4 pitching & defense team without Lee. So, currently they’re probably projected to be 14th in offense, 7th (or so) in pitching.

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