Joe Saunders for ONE Year? Deal me in, buddy

Now let's talk the 10% chance that he's Jamie Moyer

.

If Saunders is coming in as a 1-year bridge guy, then the entire conversation changes.  Pretty rare, as far as I recall, to get a guy like this to sign with you for a single season.

By "a guy like this" I mean a starting pitcher who:

  • Throws 200 innings every year (194 x 5 the last five years)
  • At a 100 ERA+
  • In the American League
  • Has been apparently getting a little better as time goes on, and was on a hot roll last we saw him
  • In other words, doesn't have warts, isn't coming off surgery, yada yada

I don't like Saunders' .500 SLG against righties, especially with the fences coming in out there in LF.  Still, he was really hot last  fall ... a 58:19 control in the second half, a 2+ ERA in September, and great in the playoffs.  Obviously Buck Showalter saw how hot (not lucky) he was and rode it, slamming him in there against Texas to everybody's amazement -- and having it pay off huge.

So there is the off chance -- 10%, let us say -- that Saunders has pulled a Jamie Moyer at age 31.  As we recall, the M's grabbed Moyer at age 31, 32, right in the middle of Moyer's first "hot" season, and then Moyer pitched like a Hall of Famer for the next 15 years.  Because the M's had body-surfed the very crest of Moyer's emergence, they had pole position and locked him up for the future.

I'd like to ask Zduriencik whether this type of thought is ever in his mind - hey, the upside scenario, he becomes Moyer, you're getting a lotto ticket into the bargain here.  

Saunders will never actually pitch in the style Moyer did; Moyer had ballet-type balance and the best command in the league.  Saunders would have to do it differently.  But some guys get good in their 30's, is the point.

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

Anyway, two years would have meant committing 60 starts to Saunders - blaarrrggggh ::wipes bottom lip::.  One year means committing zero to him.  Okkayyyyyy.

That gives us three scenarios:

  • LO - Saunders reeks, and you slam the kids in.
  • MID - Saunders has a 100 ERA+, and he acts as a buffer so that you can integrate the glamor rookies on your terms.
  • HI - Saunders does some kind of Jamie Moyer thing, and you reap the benefits.

So the STRATEGIC (not tactical) overview is that --- > you've got a grandmaster play by Zduriencik.  We got no downside here.  We win a pawn in all variations.  Write down the move, screw the Bishop into the square with gusto, and hit the chess clock.

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

Compared to Jason Vargas, this #4 starter is pretty much a push to me.  Vargas has been a little better, but Saunders did have that hot roll going at the end of 2012 which is a little intriguing.  I call that a push.  As compared to Kevin Millwood, he's pretty clearly a better roll of the dice than that was.  (RIP Kevin and thanks man.  You showed 'em how it was done, brother.)

A ONE year deal on a 100 ERA+ vet who was on a roll when last seen?  No brainer.  I'll take one of those every season until my funeral.

BABVA,

Dr D

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Comments

Waiting out the off season just paid off big-time!! All the GMZ naysayers who had written off the M's off season as a failure need to hit the re-evaluate button. GMZ now has veteran depth at every position.

1

I would much rather we just give the ball to Hultzen or Paxton, or both, in mid-May. Much rather......

But this definately kicks Noesi out of the rotation and means Beavan has to fend off those two guys to stay in the rotation. I won't have to watch Noesi and that is of some value.

180 innings/100 ERA+ is something decent to have........especially if the cost is really just one year.

Upside is pretty, downside is he flames out and we are just pitching a guy we already have.

Hultzen or Paxton get to have the full Tacoma experience, for a while. I prefer to think that if they are going to be ready in July they are ready in May....

But one year of Saunders doesn't chap me in any way serious.

A decent get. Must be a bonus or option involved.

Can we cut Raul to open up the 40-man space?

moe

2

I was leaning that way too. Still in the up scenario if we're looking to possibly keep him long term others have to go. Felix, Kuma, Erasmo, Pax, Hultz, Walker, Beaven, Saunders, Maurer (9, yeah 9!) is just too much for one rotation. In comes Carraway, Sanchez, Fernandez, etc...

Saunders one one year is very laudable. I'm having alot of trouble with a guess on the August 1st rotation though. April 1st seems easier now, but surprises could happen.

I'm going back and forth on the acquisition. It nearly guarantees that even a good spring from one of P/H/M will see them still sent out. There's always injury, trade or collapse to free a spot. Beaven and Ramirez may not be so secure, but I'd rather see both than Saunders. Oh well, depth is much better than dearth.

3

EA's picture

EA

One thing that being a Mariner fan has taught me is that the real LO scenario is more akin to something like:

Joe has a great Spring
Struggles badly out of the gate
Puts a couple of nice starts together
More stinkers to follow
A nice month gets sprinkled in there mid-season
More stinkers
A few nice starts to end the season after revealing he had mystery elbow pain earlier this year
Contract Extension!
Rinse and Repeat

4

ghost's picture

ghost

although that ws Bavasi...GMZ has yet to do that with any pitcher.

5

Can I get a wiiittttt-nesssss... 

Can I get a witness... talkin' talkin' bout mah bab-eh

6

CMB's picture

CMB

It's hard to find a player on this roster that isn't playing for a contract or future job.

I love me some numbers, but there's no stat for motivation. Is it April yet?

7

Right now we got

1 Felix

2 Iwakuma

3 Erasmo (though he'll nominally be the 4)

4 Saunders

5 Paxton

And with any injury to Iwakuma, or whoever, you got Hultzen in next.  Pretty much Zduriencik's ideal -- the BEST of the glamor arms gets the 5 spot, with the runnerup going into the on-deck circle, no rush.

9

Kelley, Noesi, Triunfel, and a non-40 roster arm for Domonic Brown, please. That would really top off the off-season. Morse, Saunders, and Brown in the outfield, with Guti rotating in against tough lefties. Felix, Kuma, Big Joe, the Eraser, and Bibbedy-Bobbedy Beaven in the rotation until Paxton and Hultzen are safely past super two. Pitchers and Catchers -- REPORT!!

10

But that does bring it up -- who's next for DFA? I'd sure like a trade rather than just give up Carp, or Wells, or Kelley, or even Noesi or Medina, for nada. We gotta find someone with a player that they'll give up that is worth three or four of our marginal guys. Who else is in a manager's dog house besides Brown that we might want?

11

ghost's picture

ghost

My guess is...we'll finalize the Saunders signing when we finish trading Carp to the Red Sox or some other interested team that whiffed on first base help. Heck...Carp/Kelley is a pretty neat little package to offer someone for a decent prospect or active right fielder with some blemishes.

12

... disginations for assignment. Everyone who is currently on the 40-man roster will show up and compete. Those who don't make the cut and do not have any more options will get traded to another team for prospects. This is the baseball version of the wheel of life :)

13

You can make the argument that Saunders is Beavan, from the other side, with one more K and one more BB per 9. And maybe a homerun better every 27 innings.

Something like that.

That's why there isn't a chorus of ringing voices celebrating this deal. 10% upside is quite reasonable. Same might be said about Beavan.

But they are both better than Noesi.

Unless we're a play-off team this year, early Hultzen and Paxton sightings make more sense.

But....it remains a decent get. Not much more than that. Unless we roll 7 or 11 on him.

moe

16

the first pitcher and position player in many decades.. guess we need to get used to using full names because there is more than one Michael too.

18

I like the suggestion. Not sure how it would work in reality. Some would wait forever to be traded, nobody tangoing with Figgins for the minimum and no talent so far. I think DFA could be severely improved too. There may be something there with spinning the wheel.

20

jellison's picture

jellison

The thought occurred to me, and is noted on another site, in the context of the trade for Morales the acquisition of Saunders is rather interesting. If Vargas and Saunders are viewed as interchangeable (both in performance and salary), and Saunders was available to any team willing to pull the trigger, why did the Angels trade Morales for talent they could have acquired without the loss of Morales? Either (i) the premise of Vargas and Saunders being interchangeable is fundamentally flawed, (ii) the market expectations for Saunders' contract changed dramatically between December and February, or (iii) the Angels made a fundamental strategic error. I would be interested in knowing your thoughts. Did the Mariners just acquire Morales for free?

21

Very interesting point about acquiring Morales for free. Certainly looks that way to me. A similar point can be raised in the Jaso/Morse/Shoppach deal. If Shoppach is deemed in an overall sense to be the equivalent of Jaso (leaving aside the number of years under contract), did GMZ essentially just acquire Morse for free?

22

M's Watcher's picture

M's Watcher

I'm just happy that the talk of Noesi in the M's rotation can stop. Saunders mitigates risk with the others in the rotation after Felix, though I'm still hopeful that the kids force their way into the rotation sooner rather than later. Ready or not, they are more talented.

23

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MtGrizzlyI hope your are right, bsr.22 min 55 sec ago
bsrI just think put it all together, there will be enough money and confidence to support a nice payroll bump. Given the cash flow constraints of our ownership situation, it may well come in stages - get up to ~$115M initially, with some reserve to spend midseason if attendance hits projections.1 hour 26 sec ago
bsrMy $120-130M payroll is a gut feeling based on a number of factors. I know that betting the under on predicting M's payroll would have been a winning bet the past few years, but I believe (hope) this year will be different. They spent $117M in 2008 with attendance of 2.3M. That is a reasonable 2015 attendance projection even for the bean counters who run this team. Since 2008, they've added a lot of TV revenue to the pot. This team has a good core to build on in Felix-Cano-Seager-Zunino-Pax/Taijuan-bullpen of death, and is a "safe" bet to invest in (unlike the fluky 2009 team). Any improvement likely means playoffs. Mather said earlier this year they'd like to reach the playoffs "4 of the next 5 years" - the 1 is down, so it's time for the 4 to start :) WAR cost what, $6M? M's need ~+5 WAR so that is +$30M, $130M total. As I've analyzed before, $130M is the minimum payroll required to build around 2 massive contracts like the M's have.1 hour 1 min ago
DaddyONote to KC for tonight's game... (bear with the ad that precedes the video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XD-PfIdGIBE1 hour 43 min ago
rick82We don't have a Big Papi, but Jesus could be our Big Sloppy3 hours 54 min ago
rick82For the right side, let's hope for a growth between the ears and a shrinkage around the gut and thighs of one Jesus Montero. Versus lefties, the dude has a lifetime batting average of .318 and OPS of .827. That would help take the sting away when Pineda is dominating the AL East next season.3 hours 55 min ago
rick82But holy cow, Seager: .300 BA and .893 OPS in Safeco for 2014. That's real star territory there. We need to get more of that from our lefties. Looking at you LoMo, Ackley, Saunders, Miller.4 hours 41 sec ago
rick82Actually, take that back. Just spitballing, but Joyce is redundant with Ackley and Saunders around.4 hours 3 min ago
rick82Saunders and JJ is veteran grit plenty for the bench. And bsr, the slugging for Cano in Safeco is interesting. Seager was a monster at Safeco, slugging .523 in 2014. We just need to locate and sign more hitters like him. I would like to pry Matt Joyce from Tampa.4 hours 9 min ago
MtGrizzlyWishful thinking, Matt. I've seen that same number posted every off season.5 hours 31 min ago
MtGrizzlyThat would be my bench, Bat. Saunders, JJ, Taylor and Sucre. But I'll bet that Lloyd will want some veteran grit there.5 hours 37 min ago
SABR MattWhere did this 120-130 million payroll come from? I'll believe it when I see it.5 hours 41 min ago
Bat571So, in late innings, behind by just a run or two, they decide to walk LoMo - put in JJ and let him drive the pitcher nuts like we've seen he can do. He may not be the big OF bat we need, but he could be quite the weapon off the bench if he can play any of the OF spots plus 1B. Ignoring Willie Bloomquist for the moment, a bench of Saunders, Taylor, and JJ, would be quite the quiver of weapons.15 hours 44 min ago
Bat571I bet Miller, Taylor, and JJ all get reps at other positions next spring. I can understand that JJs speed is wasted if he's a 1B like he was in college, but if he's a bench guy anyway, then put him there when you need to to get him on base in late innings. And his size and athleticism are in Olerud's class. So, bye Smoak and Morales - LoMo and JJ will do just fine - and we still have Willie and Ackley if need be.15 hours 56 min ago
Bat571Look at the post-ASB numbers for some of the M's, though - Saunders .952(!); Morrison .789; Miller .794; Ackley .783, and Cano .808. Now think of Kemp or VMart or JoeyBats between Cano and Seager and maybe Rios hitting .300 batting 7/8 when someone else sits for a day. I could live with that. And then Jackson with a bouce-back, Seager improving, and JJ learning to hit bendy stuff as the 5th OF & BU 1B - yeah, I'd get excited!16 hours 3 min ago
bsrWow I totally missed that Matt Kemp had a 600 SLG after the ASB and wound up at 850 OPS for the year with 25 HR. 9 in September. That would have been nice to have.17 hours 13 min ago
bsrCano's SLG was actually higher at Safeco this year, 470 vs 440 on road. The key question for this offseason will be how to get more hitting, and specifically do we go for another Star and hope he can also juice Cano's production (eg, steal the Detroit roster model by signing V-Mart), or do we try to finally patch the black holes with reliable Civics? To me, the bullpen is already good, and rotation depth should be addressable fairly easily without breaking the bank. Payroll will be $120-130M I predict, which should offer some real flexibility and we can finally see if Jack has what it takes to get us to the promised land.17 hours 21 min ago
bsrCano's season stat trend the past 3 years is so fascinating. He is like a metronome in BA and OBP: 313/314/314 and 379/383/382. I mean, that's just incredible. He's been losing SLG though, and cutting down the K's as well. I really hope he can regroup in the offseason having experienced a year of Safeco / being on a bad hitting team, and figure out a way to get back to 20-25 HR next year. 14 is not enough from our best hitter unless they can get another lineup anchor to match him with.17 hours 30 min ago
bsrSeager wound up at 788 OPS. M's yet to produce an 800 OPS hitter since A-Rod. In MLB this year, 35 players hit this level. Seager had the #42 OPS in MLB. Very good, but not good enough for the 2nd best hitter on a team with no depth. Hopefully next year he'll get over the 800 hump, he's been improving bit by bit each year.17 hours 50 min ago
rick82Haven't heard from Jeff in a while. Hope everything is OK.18 hours 53 min ago