The Guys Besides Smoak

On Wednesday, I wrote this on Twitter: “When Jack Z was scouting director, he had consistent interests in big power, big velocity, and up-the-middle athletes. Lee suitors, start there.” Power was certainly the calling card behind the Yankees and the Rangers offers, as both Montero and Justin Smoak appealed to Zduriencik’s tendencies. But while I’ll talk about those centerpieces tomorrow, I do want to offer some thoughts on the newest members of the Mariners farm system.

Blake Beavan was once a big velocity guy, probably the type that Zduriencik liked when he was the Brewers scouting director. But of the three preferences listed above, velocity is probably the one that carried over the least when Jack Z made his move to Seattle. This is because of Jarrod Washburn and Jason Vargas, Doug Fister and Ryan Franklin. It’s because Zduriencik and his front office realize that pitchers don’t really need Jeremy Jeffress-like velocity to succeed in Safeco Field. They just need to not give up free passes to first base.

And this type of player, the strike thrower, is what Blake Beavan has become. He’s in the low-90s again, but velocity isn’t really important, because he’s not blowing fastballs by people. He’s just trying to paint the corners. In some sense, with his curveball and change-up and build, he’s Doug Fister without the rarely-used slider. And Fister has thrown strikes with “just” 64.7% of his pitches this year; Beavan was at 69.7% in his 110 innings at Double-A.

The change-up is better than the curveball for Beavan, which is a good thing, because getting out left-handed hitters is the more important task in Safeco. Still, the Mariners need to improve both those offerings. If Fister’s K/9 went from 6.6 in the minors to 4.6 with the Mariners, Beavan’s 5.2 career K/9 in the minor leagues could go to some ugly places if his curveball doesn’t improve.

If Beavan is the Fister in this deal, then Josh Lueke is the Mark Lowe. Granted, Lowe would be insulted to be compared to Lueke given the former’s rap sheet, but we’re talking baseball only here. And Lowe is a guy who has averaged 95.4 miles per hour with his fastball in the big leagues, and posted a 7.9 K/9 thanks in no small part to a knockout slider. And that’s the arsenal that has Lueke succeeding this year – to the tune of a 14.6 K/9. Lueke is 25 years old, so he’s close to being as good as he’s going to get. The Mariners, however, are certainly more likely to get something out of him than their 2008 first-round pick.

The final piece of the Mariners haul, the true throw-in, is second baseman Matt Lawson. While the drop-off from David Adams (in the proposed Yankees deal) to Lawson is significant, it would be unfair to think of things that way. Lawson, like Beavan and Lueke, is a good bet to be a small piece to a Major League team. Seattle will likely work on his versatility straight-away, because Lawson is ticketed to a Double-A team that has a stalwart at second base.

This is good news for Lawson, who will need versatility to hold down a Major League career as a bench player. He’ll also need to continue this trend of crushing left-handed pitching, as he went from a reverse platoon split last year to smacking around southpaws to the tune of .351/.413/.640 this year in 126 plate appearances. Lauded for his glove and patient at the plate, he certainly fits this new Mariner regime well.

Ultimately, that’s what is so unsurprising about this deal: it’s filled with players that make a ton of sense, given either Zduriencik’s prior interests or the qualities that tend to succeed in this organization. If the focus of the Mariners has shifted towards success when Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders peak, then this deal may have found the fourth starter, seventh-inning reliever and 24th man for those teams.



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Steve
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Steve

So….Adams > Lawson…and Montero > Smoak. Reports had the Yankees agreeing to include Adam Warren or Zack MacAllister, who would be at least comparable to Beaven.

What am I missing here?

Joe
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Joe

Well, also consider taking a potential middle of order bat that is under team control for half a decade from a division rival. That helps a little bit.

Steve
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Steve

I agree with this, and it’s a good point. Just wondering if he left the best talent on the table trying to get too cute.

Travis L
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Travis L

How do you get Montero > Smoak?

I think the success (not in results, due to his ~.240 BABIP, but definitely in the process — look @ walk rates, etc.) of Smoak at the MLB level means a lot. Plus, Montero (as a catcher) might be > Smoak, but there are few people still projecting Montero as a catcher.

Given that his process seems to be working in MLB, the lack of time for a positional adjustment, the change in expectations due to C->1b shift for montero… and you would have a very difficult time arguing Montero > Smoak.

Steve
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Steve

I get Montero < Smoak because his offensive ceiling is miles higher than Smoak's.

Smoak's minor league OPS was cited here as a reason for why he was a "steal", but are his minor league numbers all that impressive for a polished college bat playing 1B mostly in the PCL?

Montero is 3 years younger and has shown more offensive potential, especially in the power dept. Even though he hits right handed, he has the type of power that should be able to take the ball out of Safeco.

The position question is legitimate, but if you believe that Montero can at least play an average 1B, I think a team with as poor an offense as Seattle may have been better off gambling on the better bat. If you don't believe that, then we can agree to disagree.

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