Two Months In: Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners never seemed a likely team to contend this season. They were coming off a 61-win season last year that was not even a success from a losing standpoint, as they blew a chance at the first overall draft pick in the final two games of the season. New M Jack Zduriencik spent the winter overhauling the team’s inept defense and bringing in as many low cost relievers and veteran hitters as he could find.

For a while, it worked. Racing out to a 15-10 start, the Mariners at one point stood atop the AL West by 3.5 games and had a PECOTA-predicted chance of postseason play over 40%, at the time, the highest in the AL West. Since that peak though, the Mariners’ bats have gone silent and the bullpen fell apart en route to a 6-16 stretch that left them seven games back of the Texas Rangers. Their latest two wins against Baltimore have the Mariners’ playoff odds back up to around 15%, but still it seems likely that they’ll be sellers before July is up.

Lucky for them, they have a lot to sell. In the rotation, Erik Bedard is the big candidate, but Jarrod Washburn and his 3.22 ERA (backed up by an improved 3.59 FIP) should also tempt a pitching-starved team. In the bullpen, David Aardsma‘s eight saves and 2.13 ERA will also likely find a buyer. As far as the bats go, Endy Chavez can hold down center field and that coupled with his .283 batting average might have him heading out of town. Adrian Beltre is the obvious trade candidate, and he seems to be breaking out of his early season slump.

Another possible bat that could be dealt is Russell Branyan who, given his first chance to play regularly, has responded magnificently and would certainly garner some interest. The question then would be if Branyan and Zdurencik would have some loyalty to each other enough that Branyan sticks around in Seattle.

Either way, with a host of actual talent up for graps form July should they fall far enough back, plus picks 2, 27, 33 and 51 in the upcoming June draft, the Mariner farm system is about to get one giant boost upwards.




Print This Post



Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.


25 Responses to “Two Months In: Seattle Mariners”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Chomps McGee says:

    Besides Bedard, I think that the most attractive piece is Branyan. After getting a vow of confidence from management that he could finally have a shot at 450+ PAs he has been crushing pitches since they opened up in spring. Having a .400+ OBP is also very enticing to go along with that power. Naturally, he should regress to the mean as the season progresses, however, he is picking a great time (for Mariner fans) to breakout.

    If Bedard remains healthy (knock on some blessed wood) he should bring back a premier prospect and a throw-in. Branyan is the only other player who may bring a solid upside player in return. The M’s will be glad someone will take Washburn off the books and shouldn’t expect (or ask) for much in return. Aardsma and Chavez would only bring marginal prospects or retreads in return.

    Here’s hoping to Mariners continued success. If not, let’s get the pieces needed to bring a perennial winner to Seattle.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • TheBiz says:

      Washburn’s in the final year of his contract so I doubt dumping his remaining salary is a high priority for the M’s. Who knew Lincoln and Armstrong would get it right on Washburn by refusing to dump his contract last year for nothing. We might actually get something interesting for him.

      Yeah, let that one sink in for a second.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Chomps McGee says:

        His current performance is cute, but baseball is still a business. Anytime a company can dump an (overall) underachieving employee who has a ridiculous salary, they call it addition by subtraction. Another rotation spot for Vargas/Jak/Olson to decide through performance.

        Don’t kid yourself, the M’s want to move Wash’s contract, even if they have to eat some of his remaining salary. Business is business, especially when you aren’t in contention for a World Series.

        And if you really think they’ll get something in return for him, I want whatever you are smoking. Seriously, pass it over here. I got a long day ahead of me. If they somehow finagle a Gatorade machine that dispenses Fierce Grape, I’d call that a huge victory for the Mariners. On the cusp of “greatest M’s trade ever”.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ralph Malph says:

        They actually could have gotten something interesting for Washburn last year but Lincoln and Armstrong vetoed it. Now not so much.

        They definitely could have gotten something interesting with the $9.85 million they’re paying Washburn this year.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Teej says:

        They actually could have gotten something interesting for Washburn last year but Lincoln and Armstrong vetoed it.

        If I recall correctly, the M’s wouldn’t have gotten anything of value in return. It would have been a salary dump.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Chomps McGee says:

        Last year, for Washburn, the Twins dangled an unnamed starting major-league pitcher. Word has it that it might have been Boof Bonser, but I have no proof to confirm this.

        Essentially, it would have been a salary dump but the M’s still would have gotten a human-being in return. I would have settled for a really good taco salad and a margarita for Washburn straight-up.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • “Last year, for Washburn, the Twins dangled an unnamed starting major-league pitcher. Word has it that it might have been Boof Bonser, but I have no proof to confirm this.”

        They absolutely did not. The return for Washburn was not even going to be close to that.

        However, they should still have done the trade just to clear the salary.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Chomps McGee says:

        Thank you for providing links with proof to clear that up, Matthew.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • I don’t care if you believe me or not. I’m speaking to the people out there who have the ounce of common sense to think that someone in my position might actually know what he or she is talking about.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Chomps McGee says:

        Hang on, Matthew, I’ll post links. Awful lot of rumors either way. But since you so easily dismissed this claim I wanted to put up some proof that it MIGHT have been the case. I’m sure you have plently of evidence to support your claim and I understand you don’t want to divulge your sources.

        http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2008/08/washburn-ibanez.html
        http://www.rotoworld.com/content/playerpages/player_relatednews.aspx?sport=Mlb&id=1342
        http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com/mariners/2008/08/washburn_its_frustrating.html
        http://www.southsidesox.com/2008/8/15/594724/twins-offered-bonser-for-w

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Chomps McGee says:

        How dare you assume a Mariner fan would have any common sense. But my posts on this topic alone should sway those beliefs of yours. Since you like to put down your readers I can’t wait to begin reading your blog posts! They are probably chalk full of common sense! How exciting!

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Teej says:

        Chomps, the first link you posted clearly showed three of the most prominent Seattle beat writers debunking the Bonser rumor. It was talked about for a day or two, and then everyone realized it was incorrect.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Chomps McGee says:

        Well, I guess that beats out the several Minnesota beat writers that said otherwise. Therefore: Seattle > Minnesota. I like common sense!

        “I received indications that the Twins offered Boof Bonser. Makes sense, as he is out of minor-league options, and the Twins would need to clear a spot for Washburn. As I wrote recently, Bonser is only 26, and it makes sense for a team that is way out of the race to let Bonser make 10 starts down the stretch.”

        This is blatant proof that Joe Christensen (Twins writer) is a bigger liar than Nancy Pelosi. Oh, oops, I meant the CIA.

        Thanks for clearing that up, Teej!

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Teej says:

        Who’s calling anyone a liar? One guy just apparently had it wrong, because it was quickly squashed by multiple sources involved in the discussions. No one knows for sure, but it looks pretty clear to me that Christiensen got some bad “indications.”

        You’re free to believe whatever you want, but if Bonser was offered and the Twins were willing to take on Washburn’s salary, there’s no way the M’s wouldn’t have jumped at that.

        And hey, cool, politics! I was wondering when this conversation would turn awesome.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. washburn says:

    Kenji Johjima’s Catcher ERA is 5.00(in 208 IP).
    Rob Johnson’s Catcher ERA is 2.75(in 244 IP).

    Fuck!! Mariners Should Release Johjima NOWWWW!!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • John says:

      is there actually any proof that CERA is anything other than pitching talent and luck?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • TomG says:

        Judging by the trailer of his latest movie with Jack Black, no.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Greg says:

        I don’t have any statistical proof, but a catcher can undoubtedly impact a pitcher’s ERA. Some know how to call a game; some don’t. A good catcher will notice what pitches are working for the pitcher and call a game accordingly, and notice changes in the game as time goes on. He might see what pitch the hitter is looking for. It’s subtleties like those that great catchers pick up on. Johjima is terrible; he makes Felix Hernandez look like Livan Hernandez.

        -15 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ralph Malplh says:

      For these numbers to mean anything, you’ve got to look at which pitchers they’ve been catching. If I caught Nolan Ryan every game and you caught Ryan Franklin every game, I’d have a better CERA.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • marc w. says:

        Well, you CAN look at it pitcher by pitcher, normalize BABIP, use FIP instead of ERA, and the picture’s the same (or, if anything, even more strongly tilted in Johnson’s favor).
        I don’t know if it means anything, but it’s really quite striking.
        I also don’t know WHY it would be true. Pitch calling seems to be the most likely, but everyone’s pointed out that Felix shakes off Johjima so many times that you can’t penalize Johjima for calling ‘bad’ pitches.

        Felix Hernandez with Johnson catching:
        5 Games – 141 PAs 1 HR 8 BB 35 Ks opp. OPS: .518
        Felix with Johjima catching:
        5 Games – 134 PAs 5 HRs 11 BB 28 Ks opp. OPS: .904
        BABIP is higher with Johjima, so shave .100 off the OPS; doesn’t change the TTO picture much, though.

        Again, maybe it’s all small sample size weirdness, but you can regress the hell out of these numbers and still get a distinct advantage. If it IS just SSS theater, and it might be, it’s so strange that it’s nearly always pointed in one direction (the splits for Washburn are just as stark).

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Steven says:

    I love Russell Branyan to death.

    However, I want to see the M’s flip him before he goes the route of Richie Sexson. They have a flotilla of up-and-coming 1st base candidates lingering in AAA, so hopefully it won’t hurt too much and they can leverage Branyan for some help in their middle infield.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Scott says:

    The Mariners definitely don’t have anybody that can produce like Branyan. Prospects are just that – prospects – and none of them have .900 OPS potential in my mind. I think the M’s need to extend Branyan for a few years and find a place for him to hit, whether it’s at 1st, DH, 3B, LF, I don’t care – the Mariners cannot let LH power bats like him just walk out the door. They have plenty of other pieces to trade away to get prospects – keep one and see what happens. Branyan isn’t likely to garner THAT much back in a trade anyways thanks to his track record.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Chomps McGee says:

      Wow, serious Man-Crush alert!!! Branyan is solid, but come on, he’s not the next coming of Big Papi. I think the idea behind picking up guys like Brad Nelson and Mike Carp and moving Clement out from behind the plate was management’s way of saying Russ is expendable. I doubt he really ever had a chance of being with the M’s long-term, in the first place.

      Basically, his type of power IS replaceable. He’s a left-handed pull-hitter with (overall throughout his career) all-or-nothing capabilities. He’s 33-years-old having his breakout year. This is not some 25-year-old with tons of upside and power. He will regress, especially in the 2-4 year long-term.

      I agree with you, Scott, the M’s can’t just let big bats walk out the door. But in Branyan’s case, we can. First base is where we have the most depth in the organization and the majority of them are all pull power hitters that could succeed just fine at Safeco. Playing him anywhere else in the field besides 1B would be an absolute nightmare, for his defensive shortcomings would essentially neutralize a lot of what he does with the bat.

      Let’s also not forget the M’s could still trade away some of these 1B prospects (Clement, mainly) and veteran Branyan and get some legit position players or prospects (defensive-minded SS anyone?!?!) in return.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Ezra says:

    How about Jeff Clement? The organization obviously doesn’t have a spot for him, maybe they can include him with one of the abovementioned players in a 2-1 to sweeten the pot.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>