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.


Dr D

Klat Categories: 


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.


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?



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.


EA's picture


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


ghost's picture


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


Can I get a wiiittttt-nesssss... 

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


CMB's picture


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?


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.


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!!


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?


ghost's picture


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.


... 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 :)


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



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.


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.


jellison's picture


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?


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?


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.


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Gordon GrossI think punting Saunders was very odd. I think not having a plan in place to replace him BEFORE you punt him is similarly strange. And watching the Padres trade for 3 All-Stars in the OF in the span of a day, basically, makes me happy for their fans. I just wanted one (in addition to Cruz). Glad for them, their GM is being greedy. Hopefully ours has a plan. There is a plan, right? Or is this gonna be another year where we know we need another bat, we just don't quiiiiite find the courage to add the one we need and hope something breaks right? With the money we're throwing around (or at least offering around) I thought we were done with that. One more, Jack. Just like in Oceans 11. We need one more.13 min 11 sec ago
IcebreakerXHowever, Coach Pete and GM Schneider have a Super Bowl ring and a juggernaut for three years now. The M's rotating door of managers and GMZ have traded Doug Fister, Michael Saunders and signed Chone Figgins. Yes, I'm cherrypicking, but the M's have a habit of punting players for very strange and borderline questionable reasons.21 min 53 sec ago
Gordon GrossI'm kind of amused at some of the folks thinking Upton was gotten "for nothing." For us, that trade would have looked something like Chris Taylor, Danny Hultzen, Tank O'Neill, and somebody like Ketel Marte/Gabe Guerrero as the "throw-in." The Padres had a lot of farm to deal, and they're dealing it to turn their franchise around. Good for them. We don't need a complete turnaround, we need a piece. The question is whether we can get that piece. If we save our ammo for next year and blow this one... Ugh. Still feeling like we're saving the tinder for a super splash at the deadline and making sure we have the pieces to get there in contention now. Have we added Smith yet? Hurry up, Jack - I'm bored.24 min 4 sec ago
TaroIf Saunders had to go out of the organization to get help and was successful with it.. what is the problem? Hes taking initiative and making himself a better player. Ms should see it as an opportunity to clear a blindspot and improve their coaching. Its embarrassing that they couldn't help him in house, but its even more embarrassing that they didn't see that as opportunity to improve.27 min 19 sec ago
benihanaIn Coach Pete speak - he's certainly did not appear to be one of "our kind of guys" - least not where Lloyd was concerned. I think there are parallels to the Percy Harvin situation as well. But at what point do we admit that the sabermetric has an "appeal to authority" counter bias? Where-by ability to take coaching and fit with the team is "not-measurable" therefore "doesn't exist?"41 min 43 sec ago
benihanaYou have to wonder what was it about Saunders. I remember the Dr. Elliot bit about him being very low in the lateral strength department. Him there-after going outside the organization to Brother Bard for pool-noodle training. Him being much improved when healthy. Him never being healthy. Him losing his job to Endy Chavez. Him being called out by mgmt. Too me it seems like a guy with immense confidence who wouldn't take instruction.45 min 1 sec ago
Gordon GrossIn other words, I think trading Saunders was a mistake, but because it was an either/or situation with his dealings with management, he had to go. So I'm glad we got something for him rather than nothing, but I would notch this one under the Fister File. Not as bad a disaster as Fister, but still a loss for this team. Unlike Fister, however, it was apparently inevitable, so the Ms getting ahead of it and getting the best they could for him isn't worth ridicule to me. Sometimes you take the bite and just move on. Hopefully we finish this roster in such a way that we make up the difference - that's still entirely doable.55 min 55 sec ago
Gordon GrossHaving liked Saunders for years (I got into an argument with Matt on a board a long time ago about Saunders and his potential upside - what comp did I use, Lyle Overbay who can play CF? I don't feel bad about that one...) his trade does hurt. I like him, I like his upside, and I like what he could bring to this team. But if he wasn't gonna be allowed to bring it to this team, I include him on the list with Erasmo Ramirez as guys who are mishandled in their dealing with management/Lloyd and are basically worthless to us, so I'm glad we got something for him. Lloyd is good with some players, and really bad with others - he's like Lou in that regard. Gotta take the good with the bad. I think Saunders could have been good for us, but now Happ and whoever takes Mike's place will have to be instead.1 hour 54 sec ago
MtGrizzlyNow the Padres are in on Middlebrooks, for Hanigan. Sheesh.1 hour 33 min ago
TaroI'm just increasingly frustrated at the Saunders deal. He is exactly the piece we need right now and we could have extended him cheap. I had assumed Z had some sort of backup plan, but clearly he didn't. That deal sits on its own.1 hour 36 min ago
Gordon GrossI would be just fine with being the 90s Braves, myself. ;-) We'll see how the Ms handle the pressure of being the favorites, or at least contenders in the AL. It's different than being the scrappy underdogs. Better have your heads on straight, boys - cuz this is the year I expect Mariners baseball to really begin again.1 hour 39 min ago
Gordon GrossHow you might feel about the Ms risk-taking... optimistic: "Hey, the Mariners are viewing this through a lens of decade-long contention not a one-year window. We have minors pieces, a pipeline, valuable young talent and highly paid, quality vets. What's not to like? So what if we didn't get one more big-league piece at the cost of the future." Pessimist: "We could have won the WS last year with 'one more piece!' ARGH! The Ms always like to come up one piece short. I don't want to contend, I want to WIN! Can we WIN please?" Hopefully we can win for a decade. it all depends on pitcher health and young contributions, really. If Walker and Paxton are Glavine and Smoltz, then we'll be thrilled we didn't trade them. Of course, the Braves only won it all once...1 hour 43 min ago
okdanIf anything, it means the peoria sports complex should be buzzing this year!1 hour 50 min ago
rick82Mariner system remains loaded with talent, and the MLB roster ain't Swiss cheese neither. Fangraphs has us #1 in projected wins for 2015. Go by WAR, go by scouting reports, either way, we rock. Hey, it's been tough sledding for a number of years, but the M ownership has really turned things around. I wanted Upton, and/or Saunders, but I'll take the consolation prize: our overall talent base, is just fine.1 hour 51 min ago
Gordon GrossLOL DaddyO. I have a friend who's a Padres fan. He's like a fat kid trapped in a chocolate store, drooling on himself and waiting for the season. After what he's been through since the Giants bounced them out of the playoffs with that one-game deathmatch, I don't blame him.2 hours 19 min ago
Gordon GrossYep, that should mean Seth Smith to us shortly, unless the price is weirdly astronomical. In which case I would try to get by with Rasmus like moe suggests, with the bonus that he can play CF.2 hours 22 min ago
DaddyODateline San Diego. Padres trade for Matt Kemp and Wil Myers, sign Justin Upton for an OF trifecta. News then leaks that San Diego and Seattle have agreed to a trade that would bring Felix Hernandez and Fernando Rodney to the Pads for prospects. Rumors are also swirling that LA threw Clayton Kershaw into the Kemp deal to compensate for Kemp's arthritic hip. Terry Kennedy, now 58, benefitting from a strict diet and exercise regimen, has reportedly rejuvenated his body and will report to camp as the starting catcher. Boston and the Friars have agreed to swap first baseman, bringing Adrian Gonzalez back to his former team. Oh, also the sky darkened yesterday afternoon, an earthquake struck, and the trio of Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby and Frank "Home Run" Baker were seen at the Coronado Hotel in perfect health and in Padres' uniforms. In light of all this, Roberto Alomar is in discussions with management about unretiring and playing second base for the team that originally signed him.2 hours 24 min ago
moethedogSMith's OPS vR for the last three years = .805-.748-.815 Rasmus = .740-.893-.752 Aoki = .828-.703-.658 (but he's an OBP machine vs lefties). Accordingly, I'm not trading anything too nice for Smith. There doesn't seem to be much demand for might get him for not much more than Smith for 2 no prospect loss.2 hours 40 min ago
merksLooks like the Padres vs The M's will truly be a matchup worthy of a rivalry this year. Unbelievable what Preller has done in the last 10 days or so. I'm not qualified to say if its good or bad but if I were a fan in San Diego I'd be pumped.2 hours 42 min ago