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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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February 6, 2008 12:43 PM

Batista/Vidro and the offense

Posted by Geoff Baker



PHOTO COURTESY OF ELIZABETH MARTINEZ


Mariners pitcher Miguel Batista provides medical supplies to young flood victims in the Domican Republic.

While folks on seven continents wait for Erik Bedard to complete his physical in Seattle today (if it's not today, I give up), the debate amongst Mariners fans as to the value and merits of this deal will shift towards the offense. As it should.

Even Miguel Batista, who I spoke to last night, would like to see a little more pop imported before the season begins. And why wouldn't he? What pitcher doesn't want some bats behind him? I like Batista and the work he does with people less fortunate than him, which is why I want to get some photos on to the blog of how he's spent his winter before we get into another baseball debate.

Batista has spent his entire winter traveling to various countries to teach baseball to younger players, provide them with equipment and listen to their stories. He'll be helping flood victims in his Dominican homeland right up until he reports to Peoria for spring training on Feb. 13. This is a story that needs to be illustrated, so enjoy the photos as we now move on to a discussion about something close to our hearts (and apparently, Batista's as well) about hitting.



PHOTO COURTESY OF ELIZABETH MARTINEZ

Batista gives instruction to young baseball players in Panama back in early December.

The M's, while preventing runs with the additions of Bedard and Carlos Silva over Jeff Weaver and Horacio Ramirez, will have to score them as well. Much talk has centered around how Richie Sexson will need some type of bounceback season in order to help compensate for offense lost when Jose Guillen signed with the Kansas City Royals. We've already talked about how Brad Wilkerson can make up for some of that. Batista would like to see free agent Tony Clark come in as a backup/pinch hitter. That would be a start, since the switch-hitter is potent from the left side and clubbed 18 home runs in only 221 at-bats for Arizona last season. Now, that's power.

But for the regular, everyday guys, one player who will need to step it up is Jose Vidro.

I'm amazed by how the Vidro debate has sort of slipped through the cracks this winter. Perhaps folks are simply tired of it, since it occupied much of the final two months of the season.

But a big part of keeping this offense at the same level it reached last season -- and let's face it, maintaining it is about the best that can be hoped for -- will depend greatly on Vidro. Other than Sexson, he is the guy who has the most room for improvement.

Vidro's park adjusted OPS+ of 109 last season was actually his best total since 2003 with the Montreal Expos. Here is the big reason Vidro is saddled with the image of an underachiever:

First half OPS: .698
Second half OPS: .867

Remember, OPS calculates on-base and slugging percentage. A DH has to have at least an .800 OPS to be working out for a team. A top DH like David Ortiz consistently produces well over .900. Anything below .700 is a miserable output and a serious power drain on a club. Now, Vidro is not a home run hitter. But he can put up some doubles, as evidenced by the 16 he produced in 247 second-half ABs. That translates to about 35 over a full season and the M's will gladly take that over the 26 Vidro actually put up in 2007. Vidro is no speed demon, so those doubles were legit. This isn't a guy strictly padding his numbers via blooped singles. But when you manage only 12 extra base hits over the first three months of a season as Vidro did in 2007, your image takes a beating. That image will not be repaired overnight, or by putting some doubles together the final three months of 2007.

Vidro's pricetag of $6 million per year also makes him a target. Not saying he shouldn't be, just stating the obvious. A DH with a sub-.800 OPS for the season should not be making that much money. But I've told you, it isn't my money, so I'm not going to lose sleep over it. What will cause me to lie awake an extra 30 seconds or so at night is whether or not the "real" Vidro was more like the first half or second half.

If he posts an .860 OPS over an entire season, the Vidro debate vanishes like the team's executives during a losing streak.

But I'll suggest that even an OPS in the .820 range would have the M's dancing with delight. It would be a substantial improvement over last year.

Do I feel this can happen? Yes, I do.

Vidro says it took him a while to get comfortable with the transition to a role of everyday DH. The transition threw his timing off more than anything else. If true, that would help explain his plethora of early infield hits and double-play grounders -- coupled with an absolute lack of power. He just wasn't putting his best swings on balls. Instead of line drives, he was mis-hitting.

In the second half, the double-play grounders lessened, the infield hits slowed and the doubles total climbed. A lucky streak? Perhaps. But perhaps Vidro knows himself better than the rest of us do. Perhaps he now knows what he has to do to get ready for four or five plate appearances per night and nothing else.

We'll find out because the M's have him for another year. If Vidro gets that OPS beyond .800, this deal won't seem as bad as it did back in June of last year. Not like the guys he was traded for, Chris Snelling and Emiliano Fruto, are lighting up the majors. If Vidro has another sub-.700 first half, or is stuck with a .775 OPS at year's end, then I'd say the M's are spending too much.

But seriously, this guy has some image repair to do.

I saw an online comparison made yesterday between Vidro and Sean Casey that described them as the "exact same player" -- a damning argument if it was true, since Casey just received $700,000 to be a bench player with the Boston Red Sox. A far cry from $12 million over two years.

But they are not the same player.

Vidro had nearly 100 at-bats more than Casey and made it well beyond the 500-mark. That's big, because getting to 500 at-bats is not automatic for players in their 30s. Fatigue, injuries and other things can set in over a long season (especially in Seattle) and conspire to limit at-bats. Just ask Wilkerson.

For all his struggles, as I mentioned, Vidro had a park-adjusted OPS of 109, meaning he was nine percent above league average. Casey's OPS+ was 96, meaning four percent below league average. So, one guy was an above average hitter (remember, not an above average DH, just hitter) with 100 more at-bats while the other guy was below average.

Vidro is also a switch hitter and his numbers were just about identical from both sides of the plate. Casey hits from the left side only and had a huge platoon split of .929/.716 in OPS. That's a .200-point gap. He actually put up the .929 against southpaw pitchers, meaning he was only a .716 OPS hitter against righties -- or 80 percent of the time. Vidro, as I mentioned was up in the higher .700s against both types of pitchers (.779 against righties and .762 versus lefties -- a big consideration when you've got to decide late in a ballgame who you want up at the plate. The guy with a .716 OPS most of the time, or .779?) Easy call there.

What else? Well, while Vidro's power picked up as the season moved along, Casey's declined in the second half. Maybe that's why Casey came so cheap? Again, they were not the exact same hitter.

I've seen it suggested that Vidro finished with 24 more points in on-base percentage than Casey (a pretty significant difference for two "exact same" guys) almost exclusively because of all the infield hits Vidro piled up. Well, if we're going to make that argument, I can suggest that the only reason it wasn't a 50-point gap was because of how Casey padded his stats against lefties the few times he got to face them.

I hate being put in the position of having to defend a Bill Bavasi trade. I was all over him for the Ramirez-Soriano deal, as you know. But I don't think he can be raked over the coals because a declining hitter like Casey just got paid $700,000. Is Vidro worth $6 million? Not based on his 2007 numbers. But he also is arguably worth well over $700,000.

My feeling is, at the end of Vidro's stint in Seattle, we will likely conclude he was overpaid. But again, it's not our money and the team keeps spending. What I care about is having a DH with an OPS of more than .800. If Vidro can do that, this offense stands a good chance of repeating what it did last year and adding some wins with the help of a Bedard-infused pitching staff.

Based on what I saw the final three months of last season, there is a good chance of this happening. A good chance Vidro can repair some of his tattered image. I'm not cheerleading for him, just calling it as I see it. Those are the things I care about. Not penny-pinching for a "lightning in a bottle" type as my DH. I just want guys who can hit. Vidro showed he can do it for three months. Now, he's got to work on six.



PHOTO COURTESY OF ELIZABETH MARTINEZ

Batista poses with team of doctors he has traveled throughout the Dominican Republic with, supplying medication to flood victims.

ADDITIONAL COMMENT (1:35 p.m.): This is for Carson, in the comments section, who suggested the online comparison between Vidro and Casey was made because they are close enough as hitters for the money difference to be outrageous. I don't think a guy who puts up a .716 OPS against the majority of pitchers he faces (Casey) can be compared to a guy who -- even with a miserable first half -- put up a .779 OPS against righthanded pitchers.

If you're going to make a stretch in comparing folks, why not contrast Vidro with Brad Wilkerson? Their season OPS totals are practically identical. Yes, Wilkerson plays the outfield (not all that well, mind you) but Vidro delivers 200 more at-bats per season and is a switch hitter who hits equally well from both sides of the plate. And while Wilkerson produces more power in those at-bats, Vidro blows him away in on-base percentage. Wilkerson is getting $3 million in base salary (which, this is for you, Librocrat, Boston was apparently going to pay him) with incentives up to $5 million if he gets into the at-bat numbers Vidro puts up.

So, what's the money difference there? $1 million more for Vidro? Of course, the M's are banking on Wilkerson having a big power upside if he can log more ABs. And no, it's not OK for Vidro to stay at his current OPS output. If he does, he won't be worth it. If he produces an OPS more like his second half of 2007? Well then, I'd suggest the difference between his $6 million and the possible $5 million Wilkerson could make next season won't be worth worrying about. In any event, it's a more reasonable comparison than putting him next to a $750,000 scrap heap acquisition whose numbers were heading downward.

BTW, we're trying to confirm that Bedard is indeed, still back in Canada. If that's the case, then no physical until tomorrow at the earliest and no announcement before Friday. Like I said earlier, I give up. No mas! On the positive side, we won't be squeezed trying to get to the M's Blog Event tomorrow night.

UPDATE (4:40 p.m.): To answer some more questions, again, no one is saying Jose Vidro was the optimal DH. What I'm saying is, he needs to be much closer to his second-half output. His power in the first three months of the season was freakishly low. That said, to reply to COL Fan's comments, his overall numbers, compared to the 10 DH's with at least 300 ABs last season, saw him place:

5th in on-base-percentage
5th in runs scored
4th in doubles
2nd in hits
6th in walks
1st at not striking out
1st in sac flies (see above)

Does he lack slugging percentage? Yes, he does and that's important. He has to get his slugging up from his overall .394 to something in the .425-.450 range -- which he did from July onward last season. He does that by keeping up the line drive and doubles pace he maintained over the final three months of the season. That brings his slugging and OPS more in line with that of an average DH.

But Vidro, as I've shown above, also isn't terrible at a lot of things that are important to a ballclub. He draws at least a walk for every 10 ABs, something virtually unheard of with these M's (and there aren't many intentional walks in there). He avoids the whiffs. Yes, as I already mentioned, he hit into too many DPs in the first half. But that stopped. The point has been addressed, so repeating it doesn't further your case that he's a $750,000 player.

And he does hit the ball. Had more hits than any other DH not named Ortiz. Take away Vidro's infield singles and he'd still have more hits than any DH outside of Ortiz. That does mean something.

And this was all in a season in which Vidro had a miserable first half. So, no, this is not a $750,000 player by any stretch. This is a guy who needs to hit more line drives and more doubles over a full season, as he began doing in July, to be an acceptable DH. Not a superstar DH, which Vidro will never be, because he is not a home run guy. But an acceptable one on a team that needs the bulk of its home run power to come from its $14-million first baseman and its $12-million third baseman.

Here's another thing I don't see mentioned often -- the value of the prototypical DH some of you want Vidro to be. Let's look at what other DH's currently under contract, with at least 300 ABs and six years of MLB service time, will earn next season in salary and signing bonuses:

Thome -- $14 million
Sheffield -- $14 million
Ortiz -- $12.5 million
Thomas -- $12.5 million
Huff -- $8 million

So, there's another list Vidro finishes dead last on. Seattle is only on-the-hook for $6 million of his salary, with the Nationals picking up the rest. You get what you pay for, I suppose. But I don't see any $750,000 guys on that list. So, yes, to conclude, Vidro needs to produce more than he did last season and get his OPS up over .800 (preferably by lifting his slugging to the .425-.450 range). Do that and his production will be a lot closer to his payckeck.

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Posted by Frankie

12:55 PM, Feb 06, 2008

I love how everyone now misses Jose Guillen, when they all didn't even want him last year.

Looks like I was right...

Posted by Tacoma Rain

12:59 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Geoff – Nice post on Vidro…I or others can get back to him later. However, you skipped right past the Richie issue.
So…..
OK Geoff and other optimists, please clarify for me your position on how Richie will improve this year...and please consider the following facts:
1. Richie is a slow starter – or as the M’s put it last year, Richie has big second halves of the season. As proof of this, for 2005 through 2007 Richie’s numbers are:
April – 67 games, 238 At bats, 205 AVG, 310 OBP, 420 SLG, 11HRs, 72 Ks
May – 81 games, 295 At bats, 229 AVG, 310 OBP, 430 SLG, 15 HRs, 84 Ks
2. Given how Seattle fans have treated others that they have “boo-ed” the previous year, if Richie puts up numbers close to these again, the “Boos” will be louder and much more relentless.
3. Richie and Coach Mac have said in interviews that the “boo-ing” did affect Richie, and that people need to give him a chance to succeed…..which essentially means that if we keep “boo-ing” Richie, Richie probably will not get any better.
4. Thus, if Richie struggles and is getting “boo-ed”, Mac will have to bench him at some point which means NO Richie will NOT be BETTER this year.

Posted by kweloper

1:00 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Batista showcasing the pills he will ingest to add some life to the fastball...

Posted by bsstecks

1:02 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Vidro will be platooning with Clement by the end of July. And thats fine, we don't have a #2 hitter anyway so might as well be Vidro...

unless...


We signed Lofton to platoon RF and LF with Raul, Wilkerson, Vidro.

You use Lofton in RF, Raul in LF, Vidro at DH against righties - Raul at DH, Wilkerson in RF, and Lofton in LF against lefties. Bring in Clement and Wlad post all-star break and we've got a lethal rotation at our disposal.


P.S. SIGN AKINORI OTSUKA, NOW.

Posted by Dauber

1:02 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Queen Of Sheba

Posted by Bellevue Rob

1:03 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Why has everyone forgotten about Jeff Clement. As backup C/DH/1b with left handed power he fills all three needs quite nicely.

Posted by scrapiron

1:08 PM, Feb 06, 2008

I have the utmost respect for Batista. He is a true team player as shown by him volunteering to pitch out of the bullpen between starts against San Diego last year and his gutsy performances on the hill. He's also showing himself as a role model in these photos. Hats off to Miguel, I hope he finishes his career a Mariner.

Then Geoff goes and ruins the warm fuzzy by bringing up Vidro. I'll try to find a bright side by saying that at least he only has one year left on his contract, and we can take the $8.5 mil and put towards our 2009 DH Ken Griffey Jr.

Posted by Frankie

1:10 PM, Feb 06, 2008

I don't know if this was brought up at all, but when this trade was first brought up, the Mariners were reportedly going to give up Jones/Morrow/Clement to get Bedard. But now, they are getting Bedard for Jones/Sherrill/Mickolio/Tillman/Butler.

So I think everyone who is complaining should be happy we didn't give up who we originally had planned...

Posted by Mike

1:11 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Remember Vidro's second half surge was fueled by good July and an out-of-his-mind August. His September OPS was back to .767

I seem to remember people thinking Guillen was a smart, low-risk, high-upside signing.

Posted by scrapiron

1:13 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Bellevue Rob - Jeff Clement has stated that he doesn't want to play first base. I thought he'd be a logical fit there too. The reviews on his catching are getting worse, so he might only have a career as a DH.

Then again, Mike Piazza had a pretty good career as a below average catcher, good hitter...

Posted by AKMarinersFan

1:15 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Here's my problem with the situation.

On one hand the team has decided that they are a "contender" and are willing to trade the future for the present.

On the other hand they have these bad contracts (namely Sexson and Vidro) that they are apparently willing to live with until they expire.

Either we play to win this year, which means getting rid of Sexson and Vidro, or not make the Bedard trade. They can't have it both ways.

Posted by Dauber

1:17 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Queen Of Sheba

Posted by Carson

1:19 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Yes, Zumsteg made an attempt to show us that Vidro and Casey are basically the same hitter. And yes, you are right; there are differences such as Turbo being a switch hitter.

The main point, though, is that if the Mariners knew how to evaluate talent like smart teams, they could pick up a Sean Casey to do pretty darn close to the same thing a Jose Vidro does for a fraction of the cost.

Just more proof that the Mariners take a bad path to a good goal.

Posted by Mike

1:19 PM, Feb 06, 2008

I don't think they look at it as wanting it both ways. I just think they are really bad about roster construction. They think Vidro and Sexson are assets.

Posted by drlo

1:21 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Can't understand the Lofton obsession which appears with surprising regularity. Mariners currently have little power in center and DH, yet some propose adding Lofton lack of power to the mix in left/right or DH? What does that accomplish? Maybe a bit more leather in the outfield, but hard to imagine that making up anything close to the drop in power.

Posted by Aaron

1:23 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Once the Bedard issue is settled and the focus goes back to the bats, does anyone else think it is time to give the Reds a call about bringing Griffey back to Seattle? Seems like a Griffey/Wilkerson/Ibanez/Vidro Outfield/DH platoon could work. Don't know if the M's have enough left in the tank to pry Griffey away from the Reds, but that seems like a logical move to at least inquire about.

Posted by Ichiban

1:25 PM, Feb 06, 2008

bsstecks -

Aki Otsuka had elbow surgery last month. I doubt he'll be pitching at all this season.

Posted by scottM

1:25 PM, Feb 06, 2008

from Frankie: "I love how everyone now misses Jose Guillen, when they all didn't even want him last year.

Looks like I was right..."


Frankie, Frankie, Frankie. I understand how ledge-dwelling might stress your memory, but can't you remember anyone else wanting to extend Guillen last season?

Posted by AKMarinersFan

1:29 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Aaron - I would love to see them bring back Griffey. But making the Wilkerson move seem to indicate they aren't interested this year. My gut feeling is the M's are waiting for Griffey to be a FA (if the FO thinks that far ahead). Plus, as you indicate, there won't be much left to trade after the Bedard debacle.

Posted by OlyOle

1:32 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Does it matter if Clement says he doesn't want to play first base? I mean, this is the bigs, kid - play where you're needed or go back to AAA.

One of the problems with Vidro is there's really no clear situation to platoon him in - he is about as good vs. lefties as he his righties. In fact, his career OPS vs. righties and lefties is .816 and .815, respectively. It's not like platooning Ibanez because he can only hit right handers. So it seems you either accept what he's going to give you and play Vidro or you get rid of him.

Here's a vote for getting rid of him.

http://marinerlog.com

Posted by FB

1:36 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Has everyone but me forgot about a guy that hit 372 in 06 and 444 in 07? He's sitting on the bench and has pop in his bat. If the "Eric" deal happens before the millenium ends, Our right fielder should be Mike Morse.

Posted by PN

1:40 PM, Feb 06, 2008

I thought there were five continents.

Posted by Mike

1:40 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Olye--Or we could find a real leftfielder. Then we could move Ibanez to first and platoon him with (Adam's idea) Kevin Mench. Then we could sign Barry Bonds to DH and then eat as much of Richie's salary as needed to move him and Make Vidro our super bat off the bench. That is if we really want to win. If we are willing to mortgage the future to go for it now, really try to go for it.

Posted by drlo

1:42 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Regarding Griffey, wonder if the question isn't how much Griffey himself has left in the tank. His return to Seattle last season was a wonderful, but hard to believe that his 2007, out of the blue, wasn't his last hurrah. His 2007 OPS+ was 119, good but not great despite a "great" comeback year, and OPS .868, similar to what Vidro did in the second half...and this was in the AAAA National League. Emotionally I get the Griffey argument, but more dispassionately I'm not sure he adds much that we can't get elsewhere or, sadly, don't already have. As for Vidro, the bet is whether or not he can play up anywhere near to his July and August last year. I don't think I'd take that bet.

Great stuff on Batista. Not sure he can be expected to repeat his 2007 this year, but a great person to have around trying.

Posted by Adam

1:46 PM, Feb 06, 2008

I found a VERY interesting article on HardballTimes.com which analyzed the Santana deal and whether the Twins were as fleeced as many think.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/the-bright-side-of-losing-santana/

In short, what the writer did was try to figure out the value of prospects, separated into top-10, 11-25, 26-50, 51-75, and 76-100 pitching and hitting prospects. Looking at their production (measured via Wins Above Bench (WAB)), their salary during the six years they are under team control, and the savings a team gets from having those players at below market value, he came up with a number and then found a measure of that value for 2008 (the idea being that a team can enjoy the future value of a player in present terms).

He then found a measure of Santana's WAB for 2008 by taking a weighted measure of his last three years' WAB totals as well as the salary he's making compared to what he's worth.

In short, he concluded that the Twins got very good value for Santana, even when taking into account the facts that: 1) Santana likely was the "final piece" to a contending team like the Mets, 2) prospect risk premium, 3) better offers from other teams, and 4) the Mets signing Johan to an extension.

I thought I'd crunch the numbers for a Bedard trade.

Just like the HardballTimes author, and ran a weighted average (4/2/1) of the last three years of WAB for Bedard. It came to 3.41 WAB. On the open market, that's worth $16.64 million (see the article). Given that Bedard will make, at the most, $8 million this year (his arbitration demand), that's a savings of 8.64 million - worth another 1.77 WAB - making Bedard worth a total of 5.2 WAB.

Now, here's Jones. According to the article, a top-10 hitting prospect (as Jones would be if he had 9 fewer ML ABs) is worth 15.37 WAB. If he were a top 26-50 hitting prospect, (as he was in 2007) he would be worth 8.96 WAB.

Sherrill would be worth 1 WAB.
Tillman, who is the #44 prospect per BaseballProspectus, would be worth 6.14 WAB.
Butler isn't in the top 100, just like Phil Humber, who was part of the Mets package, but got a 1.5 WAB from the article. Let's give both Butler and Mickolio 1.5 WABs.

Thus, depending on how you want to rate Jones, the package being traded for Bedard is anywhere between 19.1 and 25.51 WAB. He's 5.2 WAB.

Now, per the article, we can take into account the four factors I named above.

1. Is Bedard the "final piece?" Some argue yes, others (including myself) argue no. Tough to say.

2. Prospect risk premium. I'd argue it's not a big deal re: Jones, because he's proven himself at every level, unlike any of the prospects in the Santana deal. But this definitely applies to Tillman, Butler, and Mickolio.

3. Better offers for Bedard that the Orioles turned down? NOPE.

4. Mariners extend Bedard? Nothing at all at this point, and unless we see a window for extension, we can't include this factor.


So, per this analysis, one could make the argument that the Orioles are getting the far better value. Remember, the WAB values for prospects are not imaginary - the author analyzed every top-100 prospect from 1990 to 1999 and their WAB for those years. We are drawing on ten years' worth of data when he says a top-10 hitting prospect is worth 15.37 WAB.

I'll be honest, that seems like a high number, but even if we revised it down, I think a strong point is made: top-10 hitting prospects are quite valuable, and Eric Bedard for Adam Jones straight up is even a questionable move.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

1:46 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Mike - Totally agree but there is NO WAY that this organization would bring in Bonds.

The Guillen issue was not a blunder. The team knew about the steroids issue and they weren't going to tarnish the clean cut Mariners brand.

This team will sacrfice winning for image every time!

Posted by Pete

1:46 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Why does everyone seem intent on stunting Clement's growth as a player?

Using him as a back-up catcher, or first baseman, or bat boy -- or any other position on the major league club -- severely slows his progression as a player.

This is what's wrong with M's management, and apparently with M's fans too. There is no patience.

We will see a better Clement in the long run if we just stick him in Tacoma and let him tell us when he's ready to play. Why in the world would we want to make his development any longer than it needs to be?

Clement needs to be catching and hitting and working with pitchers every day. He doesn't need to be getting splinters on the bench. Aside from a Johjima injury, or Clement winning the full-time job in Spring Training, there isn't a single legitimate reason for him to be in the major leagues to start the year.

Seriously, what is wrong with you people?

Posted by wow

1:50 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Wow,

Low blow from Kweloper. Why would you even say that.... Ridiculous.

PN: North America, South America, Asia, Europe, Austrailia, Africa, Antarctica.

All I can say is wow. I think the intelligence of the bloggers is getting lower..........

Posted by Mike

1:53 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Pete--You make a good point IF Clement can actually turn into a decent catcher. Right now he's not. Our quandry is that we have 2 catching prospects in Tacoma. One can't hit. The other can't catch.

Posted by Librocrat

2:06 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Comparing Vidro to someone else the Mariners chose to overpay doesn't make much sense.

Posted by Adam

2:12 PM, Feb 06, 2008

I just went through the HardballTimes article again, and I should say that the WAB number for the prospects is a six-year projection, while Bedard's WAB is for 2008 only.

So, over the next six years, I'd put the WAB for the Jones/Sherril/Tillman/Butler/Mickolio package at 26.51 (adding another WAB for Sherrill).

Meanwhile, if Bedard's 2008 seasons and salaries are identical, he gets up to 10.4 WAB.

Thus, per this measure, the package we are giving up is twice as valuable as two years of Bedard.

Only if we signed Bedard to an extension would this deal even approach being worthwhile.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

2:17 PM, Feb 06, 2008

C'mon, Geoff. You aren't posing the right question. DH's are easy to find (and all but the elite don't cost that much). We should be comparing Vidro to other DH's in the league, not hoping he'll overachieve with his limited skillset and mobility.

How about a snapshot (among DH's with close to 400AB's):

--Vidro was last in OPS.
--Vidro was last in SLG.
--Vidro is 6th in doubles (actually tied for 5th, but that's with Millar who had around 70 less AB's)
--Vidro is dead last in HR (and in fact had the fewest of any player DH'ing with more than 100AB's) with the exception of White who had only 4 HR's, but that's in a mere 109 AB's.
--Vidro's last in RBI
--Vidro's 8th in walks

Vidro also grounded into 21 double plays. The next guy on the list (Ortiz at 16) makes up for his lack of mobility in myriad ways, but he's still not even close to Turbo.

This shouldn't be a "gosh Vidro has the potential to overachieve" post. We should be talking about how we could think paying a lousy DH (just comparing him to other DH's around the league) so much money makes any sense, and hoping the M's have a way to make up for what he's not bringing to the table.

And no, Vidro showed you about all he's got. If he repeats last year's efforts, I'd say we are darn lucky. He's got no room for improvement, he's got plenty of room to decline. NOBODY should be pinning the success of the M's offense on Jose Vidro.

Posted by Mr Bob

2:18 PM, Feb 06, 2008

I still am struggling to understand why the M's won't consider bringing in Bonds. Most fans would agree that we don't have enough pop from our offense. If we don't bring Griffey back, we need to look at other alternatives. To me it doesn't boil down to how thick Bonds neckline is, but rather who we'd rather see up to bat in the bottom of the 9th, trailing by one run. If you're an opposing pitcher, who would you rather face; Wilkerson and his lifetime .250 BA and .319OBP or Barry Bonds? If the M's are too scared of bad publicity, at least sign Tony Clark for a year. He certainly helped the D'backs more than Wilkerson will for the M's.
One more thing that should be addressed. This is the final year for Sexson. Since he wants to continue making coin, I'd look for him to finally have a good year. If we have Bonds and Sexson in the same lineup performing well, we should definitely compete with LA.

Posted by scrapiron

2:19 PM, Feb 06, 2008

It's interesting that Batista brought up Tony Clark. That's an old rumor. But one worth looking at. Clark would be a good DH/backup 1B fit for the M's. The Mariners need power and last year Clark had 9 more home runs and only 8 less RBIs than Vidro in 327 less at bats. And Clark make $7.5 mil less than Vidro and is a known clubhouse leader.

Would it be possible to release Vidro and sign Clark? Why didn't we trade Vidro for Tug Hulett?

Posted by scrapiron

2:21 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Good post M's fan in CO - I was too lazy to look up the numbers and it's too depressing.

Posted by Mike

2:26 PM, Feb 06, 2008

To echo our exiled CO friend....Vidro is the worst full-time DH in baseball....and the geniuses running the Ms think it is not only worth paying him $8.5M but trading away minor leaguers for the privilege.

If we are basing our hope for a playoff run on two hot months last year we really are in trouble.

Posted by Adam

2:31 PM, Feb 06, 2008

And I think another point of the USSM post regarding Vidro/Casey was that if you take out the infield hits that Vidro had (and he's not a guy who can bank on many IF hits), he's the same as Casey. In other words, when the only difference between Casey and Vidro is a few IF hits, you really don't want to being Vidro eight to ten times more.

Posted by eternal

2:36 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Maybe they are are trying to save money on the physical as they have universal health-care in Canada...

Posted by Klatz

2:40 PM, Feb 06, 2008

The M's ops+ by position
M's Median
C 101 83
1b 84 103
2b 71 100
3b 112 101
SS 93 94
LF 121 101
CF 122 88
RF 116 105
DH 109 108

The big holes? 2b and 1b. But nothing was done to address those problems.

The problem with Vidro is that he's just average, and bit overpaid and not likely to get better. It's not a horrible but he's not our most pressing offensive need.

Also you should try to address our defense. We have some, by many metrics, bad to mediocre defenders, particularly at 1b and LF.

Posted by Tacoma Rain

2:41 PM, Feb 06, 2008

OK, now that it has been shown that the M's offense will be worse - Sexson will suck, Vidro will get worse and may suck...please do not ask us to get into Wilkerson, Lopez or Ibanez....
How does anyone believe that the M's will make the play-offs this year???

Posted by Adam

2:46 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Klatz - now go compare those OPS+ numbers to the Angels'.

We lose.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

2:49 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Klatz said, "The problem with Vidro is that he's just average, and bit overpaid and not likely to get better. It's not a horrible but he's not our most pressing offensive need."

He's not an average DH. He's a bad DH. His offensive numbers might be ok for somebody playing a premium defensive position, but for a DH - a position that every non-pitcher in baseball is potentially eligible for (i.e., the pool of potential candidates is huge) it should never make sense to pay a guy so much money to be the bottom of a rather undistinguished pack, who, for the most part, get paid a lot less to do more.

Posted by diderot

2:51 PM, Feb 06, 2008

There have been a million comments made about the Bedard trade in terms of 'playing for now' versus 'developing for the future'.
My guess is that the mistake in this is assuming 'playing for now' = 2008 in the minds of the FO. It would truly be unprecedented for the likes of Sexson, Vidro, Ibanez, etc., to all suddenly reverse their career paths. They're not going to pan these guys publicly, but they can read SABR-metrics, too.
However, if you define 'now' as 2009, it gets a lot more interesting. The starters and closer are set.
So take some of the money from those expired contracts and go shopping in the free agent market next winter. Somehow, names like Teixiera, Guerrero, Crawford, Dunn, etc., at least give HOPE for rebuilding an offense...particularly if either Balentien or Clement develop.

Posted by Get Griffey

2:52 PM, Feb 06, 2008


M's Fan in CO
- I agree with your assessment that we need a new DH but when you listed all those stats you left out one that usually goes with them …AVG
Vidro was 2nd among DHs with .314. behind only Ortiz.(not counting Clement’s16 ABs)
I’m not saying he is a good DH, just that when evaluating a player it is nice not to discount the one area he is good in.

Posted by Get Griffey

2:57 PM, Feb 06, 2008

I agree totally with diderot on the "now" definition.

Hers hopping for success in 09

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

3:13 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Well, Get Griffey, average is, in my view, a pretty meaningless stat for a DH (and a completely useless one for most every other position when considered in a vacuum). Think about what we value in a designated hitter, and very little of it can be captured by average alone.

I'll fully admit that single-happy Jose Vidro hit .314. But what did that translate into? - 144 singles, 26 doubles, no triples, a mere six home runs, and 59 RBI. That's pathetic. It's an empty average at a position where average is much less important than the power and production numbers. If Vidro was a threat on the basepaths, I'd give him a bit more than I am giving him, but he's obviously very slow (see GDP numbers), so having him on base with a single doesn't do us much good.

I didn't leave out average to avoid it, I just didn't feel the need to further embarrass him.

Posted by Dr D

3:13 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Filter ate the last post...

Geoff your judgment is (again) spot on...

Hardball Times calculated Vidro in 2007 as worth 2.3 wins above bench. Baseball Prospectus' WARP1 had him at 3.2 wins above replacement level.

HBT has shown that the average ML team pays $4.88MM for each win above RLP out of the FA market. So in 2007, Vidro was worth $11.4MM per HBT's metrics, or $15.6MM per BP's.

..................

You are even more correct than you realize, Geoff. A real GM cannot buy a 109 offensive player for 700 grand; he has to pay $10m or more.

Going out and cherrypicking some 95 OPS+ player who made peanuts is not going to change the fact that 109s cost money these days.

I'm not a Vidro fan, but the guys who are trying to imply that he's not a valuable ML veteran -- they know better.

Cheers,
Jeff

Posted by Dr D

3:18 PM, Feb 06, 2008

The second-half argument that you make is also to the point.

As you know, but most don't, the Mariners threatened Vidro with the loss of his job last summer. They got tired of Vidro's chip-shot, keep-your-AVG-up shtick and told him if he didn't start driving the ball, they were going with kids at DH.

Vidro *chose* to start loading up on the ball -- he took a different approach. That approach is what resulted in the 6.1 runs per 27 outs in the 2nd half.

It's therefore intriguing to ask whether Vidro can sustain the 2H 2007 production. It wasn't random; it was a result of his approach.

Again, if it were my team, Jose Vidro wouldn't be on it. But this attempt to make him out to be a fringe ML player is silly. He is one of baseball's most talented bat-control specialists, and it's not so easy to find a guy who can sustain rallies in Safeco Field.

Cheers,
J

Posted by Chris from Bothell

3:19 PM, Feb 06, 2008

So can I conclude from this post that the notion of moving Vidro to the bench is a non-starter, because he's only just "got his timing" as a fulltime DH, and having him as a bench guy would wreck that?

Even though I'm nigh-certain that on paper, offensively, a combo of Raul in left, Vidro @ DH and e.g. Balentien, Morse or Tony Clark on the bench is inferior to Balentien/Morse/Clark in left, Raul @ DH, Vidro on bench?

Posted by Dr D

3:28 PM, Feb 06, 2008

If you're talking to me with the "last post" ref...

It's my team, that is definitely Vidro's role. Super-sub. 350 AB's, targeted against tough pitchers that other players can't hit.

But the question at hand is, is Jose Vidro's fair salary $700,000. The answer is, of course not. Taking into consideration his unsightly slap-hitting DH role, his usual value of $10-15m (a la Jose Guillen) reduces to around $6-9m.

...................

You can always go cherrypick some ONE player who is a better value than the guy you signed, or some ONE team that had players like yours but didn't win. It doesn't change the need for real GM's to make decisions off tendencies and trends, rather than edited counterexamples.

Posted by Alaskan

3:30 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Geoff,
When Batista was talking about "more pop" I don't think a few more doubles is probably what he meant.

As I'm sure you know, OPS counts singles twice, right (once in the OBP, once in the SLG). If you want to talk about pop, shouldn't you be talking about isolated power? And if you do, doesn't Vidro look pretty lame? Why yes - yes, he does. There were 46 players in baseball last year with an IsoP over .200 (per ESPN.com). Vidro's IsoP = .080, same as Ichiro. Now Vidro is undeniably a good hitter, but he is also undeniably a singles hitter, playing the one position on the M's where we can put run production ahead of any other consideration. So even if Vidro puts up the numbers you hope for, now that he got his groove back, I will still believe this is a complete waste of resources. He's not worth the money, and he's not worth the most valuable spot in the lineup, offensively speaking.

Posted by Dr D

3:31 PM, Feb 06, 2008

One more before we scoot...

If you're talking about Geoff's article when you say "post," I would tend to agree with you there.

Most baseball men assume that if you take a player out of a fulltime role, his performance will suffer. That's because they have seen it happen, time and again. Wilkerson himself is probably an example.

But personally I believe that Jose Vidro could swat a pitch up the middle in his sleep. IMHO he would adapt well to the supersub role.

Catcha later,
Dr D

Posted by Frankie

3:38 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Ok...

scottM also wanted to extend Guillen. But most people wanted Guillen gone this year. They got their wish, and now they want him back.

Posted by Belch25

4:19 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Am I the only one who seems to be bothered that Miguel Batista isn't working out and trying to improve his skills as a potential #5 starter? As a veteran in the league, he should know that it was hard work that got him here and while he posted decend numbers last year, he is only getting older which means he needs to start working harder. I don't like his mentality. It seems he is okay with being at the bottom of the Mariners rotation. I'm not sure if he's paying attention, but the M's have a couple pretty good young guns in that bullpen that would be more than happy to get their chance to start. You know at some point in the season one of the five starters in going to spend some time on the DL. That opens up an opportunity for Morrow and (don't sleep on) Lowe to possibly fill in as a starter. I don't believe Mac would put either one of them back in the pen if they live up to their potential. With Batista not working out as hard as he should his numbers are going to get worse and he would be the one bumped from the tail end of the rotation. Yeah, okay he is doing a good deed, I get it. With the type of contracts the M's throw at mid level talent, he can afford to fly someone else out there and do the same work as him. Start a foundation. I'm sure he is working out while traveling, but he's got to be limited to what he's able to do away from home. You have a job Miguel. A whole city is counting on you to perform like last year if not better. No 5 starter in this league has a safe position. You would be the first to get replaced.

Now, lets talk baseball.

People need to realize that being in Seattle we're going to have to overpay for anything we get. Is Silva worth the money? Probably not. When a top of the rotation pitcher hits the free agent market, teams like the Mariners have no chance. The best we can get from free agency is a guy like Silva, Vidro, Guillen... You very rarely see a superstar free agent go to a place other than Boston, NY or LA.
#1 We can't compete with their money
#2 We don't win as often as them

What does this mean? When you have the chance to get a Bedard, you take him. If I could bold that period and make it big I would.

It also means that when a guy like Vidro hits the market, teams like the M's, D'Backs, Rangers...compete for his services. Who benefits? Vidro. Some team was going to pay that amount for him, it was the best we could get at the time, money is no issue in baseball. I hate that debate because it means nothing. If we had an opportunity to sign a superstar, we could find the money for it. We aren't going to pass it up because we overpaid on Vidro.

Now the RF spot.

Someone mentioned Kenny Lofton. If thats the type of player your thinking to fill the OF spot I would much rather go with Corey Patterson. Not sure if he's signed yet with another club, but this is a guy who is a much greater Defensive player than Raul and Wilkerson. We can't keep passing up on defense. Wilkerson will cost us if he plays right. With Patterson your also getting that #2 hitter we don't have. This guy can fly. He's got a little pop as well. There may be issues that I'm not thinking of that might lead to this not being a possibility, but I am not real confident in the plan we have for RF right now. We are banking on some sort of production out of either Wilkerson, Balentine or some other unproven player. Our offense has taken a hit from what it was last year and while the Bedard deal is awesome, the offense needs to improve.

Signing off

Posted by Zach C

4:33 PM, Feb 06, 2008

If you remember, Batista made Ramirez and Weaver look good early last year. He had a horrible start, then settled in nicely. Chances are that if he plans on getting his work in during ST than it will happen again (i would like to think im wrong, but like you it worries me to hear that he spent the whole winter on something other than baseball...but i do comend him for helping people in need).

Posted by Librocrat

4:35 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Belch -

If you ask anyone whether baseball is more important than getting medical supplies to sick kids in the Dominican Republic, I have a feeling most people are going to side with Batista on this one.

Posted by Klatz

4:35 PM, Feb 06, 2008

OPS+ comparison for the 2007 Angels and Ms

Angels M’s
C 107 101 -6
1b 119 84 -35
2b 108 71 -37
3b 117 112 -5
SS 95 93 -2
LF 114 121 +7
CF 93 (105) 122 +29
RF 147 116 -31
DH 57 109 -52

Avg 106 103

I haven't been following the Angels much, but they aquired Torii Hunter, which should improve their CF offense a bit (his projected ops+ is about 105). The Angels DH production is a bit misleading I don't know who provided the 59 ops+ (I got my numbers from http://viewfromthebleachers.com/blog/2007/12/20/which-teams-had-the-best-hitters-in-2007/).

If the Angels just get average production from DH they will be a lot better than us.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

4:45 PM, Feb 06, 2008

In my last post, "this post", meant Geoff's post. :) So, Dr. D, I was basically thinking Geoff's post was arguing for Vidro staying as DH in order to stay in his groove, when all evidence seems to suggest that he's best suited as a PH, not a DH.

Posted by Fan4Real

4:46 PM, Feb 06, 2008

We're all very impressed with your WAB numbers. However, you're overlooking one very important detail. Prospects rarely amount to anything. I'm sure three years ago, Yuniesky Betancourt would have had a WAB number of 6.2 and you'd be freaking out at the idea of trading him. We have an entire minor league system full of people who can't contribute to the Big Club. Getting a potential Cy Young Candidate for 5 wishes is a great deal any day. I think you're all forgetting, that we have a Draft every year with 50 more rounds of players, probably worth a total WAB of 326, and next year you can blog about all of them. Erik Bedard's for real. Its a good trade.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

4:50 PM, Feb 06, 2008

And FWIW, I also think Batista's priorities are correct.

Beyond the stunning "baseball work or charity work" question... we also don't know his offseason routine. Some guys have to get into things the week after the regular season. Some guys use spring training for its intended purpose. Y'all DO remember that many decades ago, there was such a thing as ballplayers having to work regular jobs in the offseason, b/c pro baseball didn't pay hardly at all... so spring training was actually the first conditioning, hell, the first time they picked up a bat and ball, since the end of the previous season.

Miggy will be fine. It's the guys who don't get their work in during the actual season itself (*ahem* *cough* lopez *hack* *cough*) that have issues.

Posted by Faceplant

5:03 PM, Feb 06, 2008

"I love how everyone now misses Jose Guillen, when they all didn't even want him last year.

Looks like I was right..."


Unless you are psychic and your crystal ball told you that the M's were going to trade Guillens replacement then you really don't have much of a point.


The people who didn't think the Mariners should give Guillen a long term deal were taking that position assuming that Jones would take his place.

Posted by Faceplant

5:30 PM, Feb 06, 2008

"I've seen it suggested that Vidro finished with 24 more points in on-base percentage than Casey (a pretty significant difference for two "exact same" guys) almost exclusively because of all the infield hits Vidro piled up. Well, if we're going to make that argument, I can suggest that the only reason it wasn't a 50-point gap was because of how Casey padded his stats against lefties the few times he got to face them."


That's completely missing the point Geoff, and a really terrible comparison. Casey has always been able to mash lefties. It is most certainly a repeatable skill that Casey has had his entire career. In comparison Vidro's ridiculous rate of infield singles screams "complete fluke". There is no evidence whatsoever that this is any kind of repeatable skill on Vidro's part.


I fail to see how Casey should be penalized for something that he's been able to do his entire career, but Vidro get's a pass for posting a singles rate that is almost certainly not repeatable.

Posted by Adam

5:35 PM, Feb 06, 2008

We're all very impressed with your WAB numbers. However, you're overlooking one very important detail. Prospects rarely amount to anything. I'm sure three years ago, Yuniesky Betancourt would have had a WAB number of 6.2 and you'd be freaking out at the idea of trading him.

Fan4Real - You have ZERO understanding of the methodology used in the HardballTimes article.

Again, it analyzed the top 100 prospects for each year in the 90's. So it does account for prospects who don't amount to anything.

Posted by Faceplant

5:39 PM, Feb 06, 2008

"Erik Bedard's for real. Its a good trade."


Do you honestly think it's more likely that Jones amounts to nothing, than it is Erik Bedard gets hurt and misses significant playing time? People like to pretend that only prospects pose risks. That just isn't true.

Posted by tugboatcritic

5:46 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Well, Dr. D pretty well summed it up with some good counters, replite with disclaimers, as with a post I made a couple of days ago, it would be nice to have some of the major blog supporters answer when their stats are challenged. And it goes back to the argument that simply because a table of data has been produced, complex in nature, it doesn't mean that the understanding of the issue is more clear, its firstly just more complex.

Posted by Fan4Real

6:14 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Greg Pirkl, Gil Meche, Ryan Anderson, Joel Pineiro, Matt Thornton, Ryan Christianson, Sam Hays, Michael Garciaparra, John Mayberry Jr., Rene Rivera, Jamal Strong, Bobby Madritsch, Clint Nageotte, Travis Blackley, Justin Leone, Bucky Jacobsen. I'm tempted to throw in Mike Morse and Jeremy Reed but I'm sure you're still planning on cashing in on the programs they autographed for you in Tacoma. Combined WAB: 42,652


NO!!!! WHATEVER YOU DO...PLEASE DON'T TRADE THEM!!!

Posted by LAME

6:52 PM, Feb 06, 2008

BAKER seems to have a serious MANCRUSH on Vidro...
.
NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT...
.
What about the fact that Vidro (or senor Double Play) runs SLOW FOR A CATCHER and clogs up the bases like a turtle wearing concrete boots.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

6:59 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Vidro, Sexson, Lopez, Ibanez, all need to improve this year. Three out of the 4 spots are filled with aging breaking down veterans. A major reason why acquiring Bedard won't instantly catapult the M's to a title run. Wilkerson won't help either, so I don't see the M's offense.

Seattle is only on-the-hook for $6 million of his salary, with the Nationals picking up the rest. You get what you pay for, I suppose. But I don't see any $750,000 guys on that list. So, yes, to conclude, Vidro needs to produce more

Vidro isn't likely to improve his slugging at 33 and bad legs. You need to replace Vidro with Ibanez and place Balentien in left field and move Ibanez to DH and trade Vidro for a minor league filler Bavasi is so fond of.

Posted by Mr. X

7:20 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Again, the bizarre obsession with salary and what other teams pay for "this and that." Vidro at 6 million is more valuable to the major league club than prospect flotsam and prospect jetsam that we gave up for him. His salary isn't preventing us from going out and signing anyone else, so it's a moot point.

Do I want Jose Vidro on the team? No. But this fixation on salary comparisons is childish, and truthfully in this case, partially driven by the trade of someone's "tiger beat" crush Snelling.

Posted by The Besmircher

7:37 PM, Feb 06, 2008

The Besmircher now understands the kind of humor and simile that LAME enjoys:


From LAME: "BAKER seems to have a serious MANCRUSH on Vidro...

What about the fact that Vidro (or senor Double Play) runs SLOW FOR A CATCHER and clogs up the bases like a turtle wearing concrete boots.

Posted by Get Griffey

7:46 PM, Feb 06, 2008

One wonder haw Vidro got all those infield hits everyone thinks are padding his stats if he is a “turtle wearing concrete boots”

Posted by Get Griffey

7:48 PM, Feb 06, 2008

should be wonders
*__*

Posted by a realist

7:58 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Does Baker's paycheck have the Times or Seattle Mariners as the payee?

Posted by tugboatcritic

8:09 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Why do some of you get such a kick out of taking shots at Geoff? Most dudes who write daily about baseball (on the web) only wish that they had the stature and reputation that he does. And he's kind enough to have an interface with us die-hard fans. Pretty good deal to me.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

8:19 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Well, Geoff, I suppose it pays to be selective with the stats you quote. First let me say that I never argued Vidro was a $750,000 player, though I think we could approximate his production with a guy not too much more expensive than that.

Let's take your stats apart:

1. OBP - was fifth. No doubt about that. Only makes his SLG look worse though, as it ranks dead last among the group you are using (300 AB's).

2. Runs scored? Really? I suppose we should be grateful he could lumber his large frame around the basepaths without stopping for refreshments, but if he had any speed, that number would be much higher.

3. The tricky part is that a number of teams had folks split time at DH - but if you remove the guys who didn't play most of the season at DH (something I don't think you need to do since switching up who plays DH is actually a solution for the M's), then you are right about his ranking in doubles. Those doubles weren't as productive as some other folks, but here's the problem with your argument that his doubles were seriously lacking and then increased at some high rate once he "figured it out":

April (1), May (4), June (4), July (6), Aug (4), Sept (7).

2 more doubles in July and 3 in September above what seems to be his baseline of four. Small sample size to claim that July and August aren't just random results, and if you go month by month, you see that Sept. looks like a real fluke. Expect him to be around 4 doubles a month based on this.

4. 2nd in hits - a singles machine with no speed makes the hits worth less when comparing to other DH's. You can't consider hits in a vacuum - of what type were those hits, and how productive were they? Compared to other DH's, not so much.

5. 6th in walks is a negative not a positive, Geoff. Especially when you look at the AB's for the people higher on the list. He's patient compared to the rest of the M's lineup, just not compared to most other hitters in production spots.

6. 1st at not striking out . . well, I'd happily give up some strike outs for the ball leaving the park once in a while, as well as some increase in RBIs - singles don't score a lot of runners from first.

7. 1st in sac flies . . .well, that's not what you want in a DH. I like my weak hitting infielders to lead that stat, or maybe my catcher. You want a DH to be feared and intentionally walked. How many intentional walks? 5. By comparison, Travis Hafner - not one of the top salary guys you mention - had 17 last year. Thome and Ortiz are over twice what Vidro has. Intentional walks are a good thing, and say something about how opposing teams view the hitter. A run is a run, and sac flies score runs, but how about a nice double that scores the run AND puts another man on base? That's what I want my DH to do.

As far as double plays go, while they went down as the season went on, they didn't stop as you claim. He had some right before the break during his hot month of July on July 3 and July 7 and then hit into DP's on Aug. 21, Sept. 1, 3, 13th, 21st, and 25th. It's better, but not great, and it's not something I think you can pin your hopes on being a repeatable skill, espcially since he regressed in September. If he hits into 5 DP's a month as he did in September, that's back up 30 DP!

Now I don't buy the second half improvement argument, but if you want to use it, I guess you have to admit he's back to his old tricks on the DP front. He's slow, that's just not going to change. Whether he hits into a double play is simply not something he'll be able to control.

And I am not sure why I should care what mostly elite DH's with six years of service time are making. In fact you seem to want to argue he's not a traditional DH given what is expected from others in the line-up, so why do we care what those who produce like DH's make?

At any rate, Thome, Sheffield, and Ortiz are elite and justify their salaries, and Thomas isn't through yet. Huff's salary last year was 4 mill, and he was able to play some time in the field without completely embarrassing himself. But why limit it to elite folks with 6 year service time? I never said the M's had to go after a long-time veteran who produces to justify his salary, or an overpaid Vidro type. I'll take a well-priced option in a younger model. Or a bargain guy who can hit for power, but no longer field. What about a Travis Hafner type with his $4mill price tag last year? Or maybe a rotation of guys? And if we are throwing in signing bonuses, let's make sure we account for incentive bonuses, and how the prospects - YES PROSPECTS - were valued at the time we acquired Vidro. Fruto and Snelling, regardless of what happend to them when they got where they were going, should not have been necessary in a trade for a gimpy 32 (at the time) year old with no power.

Face facts - Vidro is another year older and last year - as a whole - is as good as it gets. More likely, we see an injury crop up to claim part of his season.

Posted by oregongalw

8:22 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Geoff, thanks for the Batista piece. There are more important things than baseball, but it's awfully nice when someone on your team combines sport with generosity of spirit. He was a pleasant surprise last year and I sure hope--for his sake and ours--he can do it again.

Posted by Adam

8:24 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Greg Pirkl, Gil Meche, Ryan Anderson, Joel Pineiro, Matt Thornton, Ryan Christianson, Sam Hays, Michael Garciaparra, John Mayberry Jr., Rene Rivera, Jamal Strong, Bobby Madritsch, Clint Nageotte, Travis Blackley, Justin Leone, Bucky Jacobsen. I'm tempted to throw in Mike Morse and Jeremy Reed but I'm sure you're still planning on cashing in on the programs they autographed for you in Tacoma. Combined WAB: 42,652


NO!!!! WHATEVER YOU DO...PLEASE DON'T TRADE THEM!!!

Wow. Zing. You got me.


Your grasp of this stuff is just staggering...

Posted by Merrill

9:46 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Thanks, Geoff,

Get Griffey,

your comments show why I try to read the whole thread before commenting. It was nice to see Fan-in-Col address that in the last post without saying anything about supposed freak "infield singles."

I bet Oregongal and I, three-legged, could beat Vidro down the line.

I want to present an optimist's view:

Many of you seem to me to be discounting the effects of injury. Some of you argue they will continue.

My answer is, with Sexson and Ibanez, these were leg injuries that could likely be avoided with a higher level of off-season maintenance. Think Edgar here. As you get older, you have to work harder to stay in condition and prevent injury. Perhaps they are just learning this as they age, and will adapt accordingly.

And Vidro was recovering from leg injuries the first half, stronger in the second half. What reason is there to think this wasn't injury-related?

Even at his best, he's Edgar Lite, but I think it's a comparable situation, in which a guy whose legs couldn't stay healthy then proceeds to stay healthy and contribute at DH. Even without the power, I'd take an .870 OPS out of Vidro.

I argue the effect of not playing defense for an entire year on a carpet will better allow him to stay strong and injury-free in his lower body.

Sexson, Ibanez, Guillen (and Wilkerson), and Vidro all had injury issues last year. We already have evidence in that story on Sexson (PI? Sorry, I've forgotten where I read it, but have no doubt it was linked from here if not a Times story) that Sexson is working harder than before in the off-season to try to be sharper from the beginning of ST.

It's not a coincidence that keeping a higher level of fitness throughout the year is injury-preventive.

I fully expect to see improvement from Sexson, Ibanez, Vidro, Wilkerson, Lopez, and Betancourt, the latter two in all phases of the game. We finished fourth in offense last year despite a near perfect-storm of injury.

I'm not tryin' to say I'm right & you're wrong; I'm just trying to show that I have a reasonable argument, which could also end up being true. Most likely a mix of the extreme possibilities (all healthy all year/all injury-hampered and unproductive all year) will occur.

And again I want to make the point, made by so many others (sorry for the repetition but no one seems to have a response for it), that the Pythag expectation results for the M's in 2007 is actually evidence for the value of pitching.

Just 2-5ths of the starting rotation was seriously outa whack--hey, that's only 40%! Someone above (sorry!) stated the ERA differences among the four pitchers, and it was a plus-3 improvement with the new guys (let alone the rise in innings). When and if I have the free time, I want to explore the relationship between Pythag and the Weaver/HoRam results.

I also want to crunch the numbers myself on a game-by-game basis to show a reasonable projection of expected results for last year's team had they had Bedard's and Silva's average performances rather than Weaver's and Ramirez's. I will leave the effect on the BP completely out of the picture.

I think the results would be astoundingly positive, and would give, even without accounting for the effects of reasonable expectations of improvement in other aspects of the team (doesn't it make sense that Ibanez's defense was so atrocious last year because his LEG injury contributed to that? And if he's healthy, shouldn't his defense also be improved?) such as Lopez's focus, Betancourt's flying arm, and injuries to four regulars.

I think there's so many areas in which we can reasonably expect improvement that we don't need a "perfect storm" of all of them coming true 100%. We just need some of the variables to trend our way. And by "our," of course I include those who argue the M's can't compete this year.

Assuming Bedard and Felix stay healthy.

Posted by Fan4Real

9:53 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Alright...I'm done mocking the WAB. I'm sure it's a great stat and I obviously didn't look into it enough to give it a fair chance. Here are my real thoughts:

I would think that if any organization out there would be weary of making a trade that gives up so much potential for one player it would be us. If the Mariners had been approaching personnel decisions the way we are facing the Erik Bedard situation, the three most influential players to wear a Mariner uniform (at least since I've been old enough to watch...late 80's and on) would never have been Mariners, and we would be the West Coast's older version of the Devil Rays. (I'm sure that you don't need me to tell you who I'm talking about but I will anyways.) Griffey and A-Rod both came up through the system, and were the pride of our farm system. We probably could have gotten something impressive in return for them. But we kept them and it paid off.
We were on Baltimore's end of a trade like this before. Mark Langston was an all-star pitcher who led the AL in strikeouts 3 times while on the Mariners. We dumped him for some prospects and got Randy Johnson out the deal.
We've kept our prospects and had it pay off(Griffey and A-Rod)
We've traded our stars and had it pay off(Big Unit....we also got Buhner as a prospect in exchange for Ken Phelps)
I can't think of a time when we've traded away our farm system and had it pay off. (I can think of lots of prospects that got away: Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe, David Ortiz, Scott Podsednik (he was pretty good for awhile), Brien Fuentes, Mike Hampton, Mike Jackson, Bill Swift (oldies but goodies), and I'm sure there are others I am forgetting.)

But the reason that I really want us to get Erik Bedard, and I think this is what has kept us from being true competitors since our Safeco spiral, is that we don't ever seem to develop good talent. I am so tired of hearing about some great prospect who will bring us back, and then have him end up in mediocrity. I've been excited about all of them and have been disappointed every time: Gil Meche, Joel Pineiro, Ryan Anderson, Bobby Madritsch, Justin Leone, Bucky Jacobsen, (this is kind of a joke...but some people said Ryan Feierabend was supposed to be really good.) Even Felix has yet to live up to the hype (but I still believe in him!) I'm afraid Adam Jones is going to be next. He's been up two Augusts in a row, and has been unimpressive each time.

My thoughts: our prospects may go somewhere else and be great, but it seems that if we keep them, they won't be great, so they're not doing us any good. So what do I want us to do? Take what we can get. This isn't the thinking that builds dynasties and it isn't the thinking that wins championships (unless you're the Marlins), but it does protect my heart from being disappointed again.

Posted by Merrill

9:54 PM, Feb 06, 2008

And, just want to add on the latter point of Bedard's health that by all accounts he could have come back and pitched "down the stretch," as I saw in a recent Baltimore Sun story (forget when/which).

Does that mean "the last week"? Two starts? Or does it mean "the last two weeks"? Four starts?

It was a minor 2-3-week injury.

Posted by Klatz

9:55 PM, Feb 06, 2008

" also want to crunch the numbers myself on a game-by-game basis to show a reasonable projection of expected results for last year's team had they had Bedard's and Silva's average performances rather than Weaver's and Ramirez's. I will leave the effect on the BP completely out of the picture."

That's what USSmariner did with the Diamond mind simulations. Given the limitations of that and other projection systems, it seems as if Bedard's and Silva's contributions won't be enough to make significant improvement.

I'm hoping that Bedard is next year's Cy young candidate and that the M's reach the playoffs this or next year.

But I won't have high expectations.

Posted by Merrill

10:09 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Sorry, Klatz, my impression was that the Diamond Mind simulation was of a projected future, not of a reasonable combination of real results. Am I wrong on this point?

Posted by Merrill

10:11 PM, Feb 06, 2008

...a projected future that does not in any way take any portion of my argument into account...

Posted by Fan4Real

10:19 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Sorry, I did not mean to leave J.J. Putz out of the mix as a true gem that came from the Mariners farm system. He's amazing and there's no denying that.

Posted by Mzz

10:36 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Fan4Real, as a quick counterpoint, I submit Jeff Cirillo, Scott Spiezio, Rich Aurilia, Richie Sexson, Carl Everett, Horacio Ramirez, Jeff Weaver, Eduardo Perez. Veterans brought in from outside the organization frequently end up in mediocrity too. Some of them even start there.

It isn't a prospect vs. veteran thing. I wish we could just get past that. It's a matter of the team needing to do a better job of evaluating talent, period.

Posted by Taylor H

10:38 PM, Feb 06, 2008

There is one thing I don't understand, Geoff. Why do you put so much value on "hits" in general, at least in this post. You seem to forget about the matter of overall production. A guy who hits a home run ever ten at bats is far more valuable than a guy who hits two singles every ten at-bats. Homers are guaranteed runs, while singles can frequently be stranded and the runner not score. A DH is supposed to be a player Billy Beane would love - a power-hitter and walks a lot. Comparing Vidro to other DH's is almost impossible, considering he alone is a singles hitter with a .300 average. The fact that most DH's hit .250 and still produce more than the .320-hitting Vidro shows a flaw in your thinking.

Simply put, Vidro is a declining singles hitter. He has very little left in his tank and he is a below-average designated hitter.

Posted by Adam

11:25 PM, Feb 06, 2008

Gil Meche, Joel Pineiro, Ryan Anderson, Bobby Madritsch, Justin Leone, Bucky Jacobsen, (this is kind of a joke...but some people said Ryan Feierabend was supposed to be really good.) Even Felix has yet to live up to the hype (but I still believe in him!) I'm afraid Adam Jones is going to be next. He's been up two Augusts in a row, and has been unimpressive each time.

1. Only one of those prospects - Ryan Anderson - was rated as highly as Jones, and his failure was due to injuries. None of the others, not even Meche, had the rave reviews that Jones did. Not even close. So the comparison should stop right there.

2. Would people please stop judging Adam Jones by 50 or 60 ABs? Please go look up how Chris Young, Troy Tulowitzki, Dustin Pedroia, and Josh Fields performed in their first 60 ABs this year (all the while playing regularly, unlike Jones). They each performed worse than Jones did in his 60 ABs. Good thing their respective clubs didn't make a decision based on those small sample sizes, eh?

Posted by M'S FAN 4EVER

3:09 AM, Feb 07, 2008

GRIFFEY FOR DH!!!!

Posted by byebyeSexson

7:57 AM, Feb 07, 2008

Geoff, I disagree when you say, "...Vidro. Other than Sexson, he is the guy who has the most room for improvement." Just take a look at second base. Not only does Lopez have more room for improvement, I argue he is much more likely to achieve more improvement. If he can come back to his first half and prior year performance, he will have great improvement, and being young, I expect he will outdo that level.
.
Go M's. Go long Richie...

Posted by Get Griffey

8:11 AM, Feb 07, 2008

Griffey would be a much more satisfying then are current “DH” Vidro. The only problem I can see is if he does not want to DH. I believe he would be ok with it if he was coming back to Seattle so I agree.

Griffey for President… I mean DH in 08+.

Posted by scrapiron

8:42 AM, Feb 07, 2008

Adam - I love your well thought analysis, and I completely see you point on not wanting to trade Jones, although I disagree. In an ideal world the Mariners would have a solid rotation with a true #1 pitcher and a #1A in Felix Hernandez anchoring the top of the staff, while having an Adam Jones all-star right fielder roaming the outfield. I'm assuming that Adam Jones will reach his full potential in two years.

So what do you think Adam Jones' upside is? Personally, I see him as a 20-20 guy with plus defensive skills. I just don't see him as a 30-30 guy or a 50 HR machine which vaults him to the elite level. Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe that's why I'm not opposed to this trade as much as others.

To me, it's a replacement issue. As we've seen, trying to get elite pitchers to come to Seattle is next to impossible. (Zito, Schmidt, Santana, even Kuroda) Your best bet is to trade for a pitcher, hopefully get them to like the city and the team, and then re-sign. That's what the Mariners did with the only ace they've ever had (Johnson).

Now let's assume the Mariners need a right fielder in two years to replace Adam Jones potential numbers and solid defense. We've seen several of those on the market and have had serious discussions about coming to Seattle.

I just don't see anyone in house that has the potential to put up Bedard-like numbers so you're eventually going to have to go outside and make a similar deal to compete. If you wait a year to make the Bedard deal, he might have a Cy Young award under his belt and the price would be even higher.

Posted by Bill

8:47 AM, Feb 07, 2008

Speaking of young right-fielders, what's the deal with the Blue Jays signing Alex Rios to only a 1 year deal? I know it was to avoid arbitration, but couldn't the Jays lock him up for a longer period of time?

Posted by BandwagonJumper

9:55 AM, Feb 07, 2008

Nice to see a player spending his off season thinking of something other than himself. Also seems like Batista should have a clear of last season head coming into spring training. Hope he remembered to do some conditioning while he was doing all his humanitarian work.

As far as our DH issues, right now it’s a problem because we don’t have a real power hitters on the team. If we have a position player that has some pop (delivers doubles or triples on a regular basis) then Vidro is a good number 2 hitter for moving Ichiro from first to second or third to be followed by our power hitter. The thing that sticks in my mind from last season that concerns me more is it seems like every time tuned in a game we hit into a lot of double plays. Is there a stat on how many double plays a team hits into in a year? Do the mariners hit into more double plays than other teams?

Posted by Jumbalaya

4:25 PM, Feb 07, 2008

Adam Jones has 139 career at bats.

Posted by Treseme

4:30 PM, Feb 07, 2008

Why you are guys hating so much on a guy who hit .314. We've come a long ways from Scott Spiezio hitting .198 for his Mariner career.

Posted by Big Ebu

10:50 AM, Feb 08, 2008

Adam,

Your WAB analysis underscores something that I think most of the “Pro” trade crowd has come to realize and this is that a Bedard extension is really needed in order for this trade to be considered worthwhile (or winning a World Series in 2008 or 2009 before he leaves!).

I thought the WAB approach was an interesting method to try to quantify the value of prospects. I was a bit surprised that their data showed that a top 10 hitting prospect had only a 39% chance of being rated as an “everyday player” or “all-star” per the criteria being used. I have a couple of other comments on the WAB formula.

First, I totally agree with using “net present value” to discount future performance (by the way, you did not discount Bedard’s WAB for 2009 which you probably should have if you assume equal performance in 2009). However the formula uses what seems to me an arbitrary discount value of 8%. I’m not sure how that was selected. I would think that this number is actually a variable that would in part be influenced by a specific Team’s philosophy when dealing with prospects. A team that jealously guards prospects and always tries to build from within would probably have a low discount rate, while teams that have a more “win now” focus would probably have a higher discount rate since they want “All Star” performance now. Now for the purposes of analyzing this trade you have to pick some value, but my perception of the Mariners is that they would probably discount at a higher rate than 8%. So this would decrease the WAB value of both Jones and Tillman. Interestingly, I think the Orioles when evaluating this trade probably would have a lower discount rate than 8% so using this same formula would result in different WAB’s generated by the Oriole Front Office and the Mariners Front Office (Orioles being higher).

Second comment is whether the cost savings that a prospect provides is being overstated. I didn’t see anything in the article that detailed how the author calculated what a prospects salary would be over the 6 year period. But if this is based on salary trends gathered in 1990-9, I’m not sure if this is going to be representative of the future. Teams treat Arbitration eligible players differently now then they did 10 years ago. Back in the 90’s, a lot of players ended up going through arbitration. More recent history suggests that teams now prefer to non-tender the marginal players and sign the better ones to multiyear deals. Not many cases actually result in arbitration anymore. Now these multiyear deals may still be for “less than the market” resulting in positive PV Savings, but maybe not as much as the author projects. Also, a 10% discount rate for PV Savings seems low. The discount rate is more than just inflation; it also has to factor in the lost opportunity of being able to spend/invest money now rather than getting it back in the future. I would think that the discount rate is also a variable and could be influenced by organizational philosophy. Teams with larger $$ resources probably place less value in potential savings in the future and thus have higher discount rates. Higher discount rate reduces the PV Savings and thus also the WAB of prospects. This is important because the WAB coming from PV Savings is about 45% of the total.

So, IF the Mariners are more interested in near term performance and aren’t overly concerned about saving future salary their calculated WAB total for the trade package would be less than the 26.51 that you calculated. It will still be higher than the 10.4 offered by Bedard, but maybe makes the trade look less lopsided using this measure.

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