Public Service Announcement: #2 Draft Picks

Babies and Bathwater, Dept.

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Q.  Is it possible for local fans to over-hype their own prospects?

A.  Asked and answered.

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Q.  Are Seattle fans doing this with Danny Hultzen?

A.  Danny Hultzen was THE NUMBER TWO PICK IN THE ENTIRE DRAFT.

Look, gentlemen, if we were talking about Mike Carp or Alex Liddi or Kyle Seager or Carlos Peguero, that would be one thing.  But don't paint every prospect hopeful with the same "he's just a prospect" brush.  Each year there are four or five super-prospects.

You don't luck into a Danny Hultzen, dump $10.6 million on him, and then lose interest when he walks a few guys in his first pro year.  Draw a distinction between "the kids" and players who are legitimate super-talents.

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Q.  In your mind, who are the M's legitimate "super-talents"?

A.  Dustin Ackley was also the #2 pick in the entire draft.  We're not talking about "in Jeff Clarke's" mind.  Ackley and Hultzen and Mike Zunino were, in their drafts, the BEST hitters and pitchers in the INDUSTRY.  Not among the best.  THE NUMBER ONE players.

Jesus Montero also came with a super-elite pedigree:  he was the TOP hitter in the minors, him and Harper, when Montero was in the minors.  Jack Zduriencik evaluated him as comparable to Albert Pujols.  You don't wander off and lose interest because the kid only hit .295 on the road at 22. 

Taijuan Walker is on a Felix Hernandez career path, give or take half a year.  Consider carefully what you'd have felt like, had we traded Felix at age 19?  James Paxton is better than Hultzen.

Trash the actual prospects, Carp and Liddi and Romero, if you want to.  But keep a sense of proportion on Hultzen, Ackley, Paxton, Taijuan, Zunino, and Jesus Montero.  Those players are a different breed of cat.

Nick Franklin, you could argue about.  But there's no arguing about the Six.

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Q.  Justin Smoak was supposed to be elite.

A.  He was elite.  At this point, there's enough data return to downgrade him.

If your reaction is "Because of Justin Smoak, or Ben Grieve, or Delmon Young, or Sean Burroughs, or Andy Marte, I'm just not interested in 1-1 draft picks any more," then that's on you.

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Q.  Would it be reasonable to trade Jesus Montero for Billy Butler?

A.  Shedding Jesus Montero for Billy Butler --- > could easily become a historically classic blunder in the Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio template.  Bill James once said, 90% of the worst trades in baseball history were like this:  giving up a super-talented youngster for a well-regarded, proven veteran.

Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen, Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocumb, Sammy Sosa for an aging Harold Baines... 

And in this case, Montero for Butler type concepts, you don't even expect (reliably) that Butler will give you a significant upgrade over Montero NOW.  You can't just use a "all-hope team" logic to paint Jesus Montero with the Mike Carp, Alex Liddi brush.  Montero is a top-10 BBA prospect.

And yet Billy Butler is a legit cleanup hitter.  Consensus is to shed Montero if you get Butler, but I'm totally opposed to that apples-for-apples swap.  If they grab Butler and keep Montero, that's good by me.

..........

Jack Zduriencik's evaluation, at the time of the trade, was that Jesus Montero compared to Albert Pujols.  He's got to stick with that.  

My considered opinion is similar.  Jesus Montero did things with the ball, in 2012, that ARod and Junior didn't do.  He fought off jam pitches for line-drives to right center ... he got on top of 96 fastballs ... he kept the hands back and drove soft stuff to right field ... he showed the ability to square up literally every kind of pitch in every spot of the strike zone.  It's not a cliche.  I'm talking about watching him do it.

I don't say Montero's a guarantee.  I say he's the kind of young player you don't abandon for baubles lying on the side of the road.

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Q.  Should there be untouchables?

A.  Pat Gillick was exceptionally win-now.  But he would create a list of 3-4 players that he simply refused to trade on principle.  He felt it would be a broach of his personal integrity to trade the teenaged Felix Hernandez or Jose Lopez -- yes, those were literal names on his lists -- for the ability to win this year.

The M's are now making noises like they'd package truly elite prospects, in bundles, for Billy Butler types.  Even Gillick wouldn't have done that.  When you have sailed past Pat Gillick in your win-now imperative, you have lost your compass.

If you want the Mariners to increase payroll, to try harder to win, then argue for that.  But don't argue that Montero, Zunino, Ackley and the Big Three are overrated.  They are not.

BABVA,

Dr D

 

 

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Comments

Well we could, if we wanted to forego all trades or free agents and just start kids all over the place. For the third year in a row.

It's not "giving up" on Montero to trade him for Butler. It's moving a good player to get a good player. Yes, they happen to play the same basic position. But Butler IS doing what we want Montero to do. When will Jesus do it? Could be this year, could be 3 years from now. If we don't make the trade and it takes Montero 3 years to get comfortable at DH and rake like he does as a C then Zduriencik is out of a job, Felix is gone, and we're still talking about the next Jason Bay addition.

Timetables matter. I'm still of the opinion that 28 year old Smoak is gonna be destroying a ball for somebody - it just won't be us. It's taking him too long to put it together.

Replacements matter too - it's Jack's fault that we're not using Montero as a catcher going forward. He's the one trying to add Russell Martin and Mike Napoli and who drafted Zunino as the heir to the throne. He punted Pujols The Catcher off the position. Can't keep Montero if there's no place to play him.

Maybe he can play 1B. Personally I think he'd like that more than DH. He seems like a guy who wants to be in the field, not stuck on the bench except for 4 or 5 plate appearances a game. I'd be trying to make Montero into Paul Konerko right NOW, if we aren't gonna let him catch and aren't gonna trade him AS a catcher.

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But no team will give you anything useful if you take your 6 best prospects off the trade list. Well... we might trade Doug Fister for a handful of scrubs, but SMART teams try not to give up the best player in the deal. If Hultzen, Walker, Paxton, Montero, Zunino, and Ackley are off-limits, what's your pitch? "Here, take this guy who just lit up the Cal League from High Desert, like everyone ever. Or maybe this guy, who is either a SS or a 2B and should probably stop switch-hitting. Or maybe our 5th best pitching prospect, who won pitcher of the year in AA, like Beavan. Or hey, Beavan..."

We have better prospects in our top 10 than we used to. The days of trading JC Ramirez, Aumont and a junk CFer for Cliff Lee just because all of em were in our top-10 list are OVER.

So if we're gonna make a trade, then we do it with the knowledge that every top-10 prospect we trade might be Rickie Weeks, or Billy Butler, or Jered Weaver. That's the problem with a good farm system. And this is why I'm not trading 4 of our top 5 prospects, plus Montero, to get Butler and Myers (thread from earlier).

If we don't like the chance of ever losing a good player, then we'd better keep all our prospects. Of course, since we have a top-10 every year that's awesome, even though we promote a handful every year, we're gonna run out of places to play them. And you might notice that RA Dickey won a Cy Young this year - he used to pitch for us. Travis Blackley was a nice part of Oakland's run to the playoff, and he was ours too. Morse, As-Cab, Choo, Morrow... former Mariners are making an impact all over the league.

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Players play well for other teams. As long as we have as good or better players on our team, who cares? The problem with trading a great prospect (or prospects) is getting junk in return. If you trade Mike Trout for Felix Hernandez, that's not a problem right? For this offseason I would prefer to sign Reynolds (and Hamilton, while we're spending other peoples' money), keep Montero, and flood the remainder of the team with all this talented youth. Ackley/ Seager/ Montero/ Hamilton/ Reynolds/ Saunders/ Zunino/ Franklin/ Guti looks pretty good to me.

Then position Romero to play the OF when Guti's contract is up and call it a day. Simple.

But if we wind up trading Franklin, or Paxton, or whomever to fix this team, then that's a call that will hopefully bring a great player here. Not a decent player, but a great one. Our great minor leaguers deserve to be swapped for a great major leaguer, I would think.

And if that happens, and we don't empty the coffers in the process, I'll have trouble complaining about it. Get great players, whether through promotion, trade, or free agency. That's all I'm asking.

Again - simple. *laughs*

~G

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That's one thing ... a Montero and ? package could be argued for Butler... you're dealing a megatalented kid and getting back a player you will be very happy with...

At other websites, the idea is that you trade two or three of these six players for merely decent talent back ...

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Butler, I've said, might be worth Walker and Franklin. And that has always been a "might." It's close.

Mostly I've called for playing the young guys as an investment in a pennant. move 'em up. Let 'em play.

Montero completely mashed LHP last year. He wrecked them. They begged for mercy. Oh, he did it at 22. Oh, he was an adequate catcher, too. Holy snot! What else is a 22-yr old to do? Subtract a Harper or Trout or a Stanton, how many other 22 (or less) year olds did that last year? It's a limited field.

I'm frequently frustrated with the (prevalent) idea that terrific young talent is nothing more than a terrific trade chit, with a somewhat reduced value because they only bring "potential" and not actualy production. Terrific young talent is all of the three. Hang onto as much of it as possible.

We should be finding ways to get the young guns on the field, soon, not ways to ship them elsewhere. If that means a positional change or two, so be it. Steve Garvey was a 3B, until he collided with Ron Cey at that posiiton. Alston easily found a way to play them both. Turn Franklin into a LF or 1B, if he isn't a SS or our 2B. Man, he's gonig to rip 2/3 of the pitchers. That ain't bad. Romero, too. Find a place for him.

Let's go with a bunch of the guys we've got. Some of them are special.

moe

4

They wanted to keep Butler anyway, and we weren't gonna empty the system to add him. I'm cool with that. Like I said, I like Butler, but not at any price.

So who wants to bet that we whiff on Swish and Hamilton, and wind up adding Kubel as the big OF/DH add this winter? After all, let's not be hasty and risk too much.

~G

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Frankly, my dear Scarlett...well, you get the idea. Too many offseasons we have assumed that the scraps being sought (now Dee Gordon?!) are preliminary to THE BIG MOVE. Which, of course, never seems to materialize. Is Jack starting to perspire heavily? Is he going to be forced to prove that the only way to succeed in Seattle is to finish in last place for several years running and then hope like heck that enough of your high draft choices work out that you can keep the wolves at bay?

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I agree on our elite prospects - trading them for a 30-something anything seems foolish. Butler is younger, but I still don't think he provides enough more than Franklin very well could - and Franklin plays a position that we need upgrade at. But then again, Brad Miller is right behind and might be as good an overall player, if he's a better shortstop with a stronger arm. So Franklin is a bit of a tweener for us on upside & need. 

On the other hand, if Franklin and Erasmo Ramirez could get us Wil Myers, who would be one of our younger players, I'd do it, both because we need a RF that can hit, and again, Miller is also ours. If Vargas or Beaven were needed to sweeten it, I'd still say fine -- we would still get back a piece we NEEEEED for pieces we have in-line replacements for. If Stanton were available, I'd empty the locker - 2 of the 4, plus whatever else, but for a young top ten in the majors player, who plays a position of need. But to include any of the Six, or Franklin, or Miller, or Sanchez, for merely a good proven MLBtm player, especially when we really need to see if Smoak and Ackley can do a Saunders, and if Montero can settle in at DH, catching once a week or so, and if any (or all) of the four pitchers can make the leap to the rotation -- nah, I'd rather dance with those we brung. 

Looks like we're signing Bay. I hope he returns to form, but I'm doubtful. I'd be happy now if we traded some useful pieces (one of Pryor/CSmith, plus an A+ level B-/C+ 'spec like Jones?) for a Mike Morse or Logan Morrison, who can play left and back up first base and maybe provide grit in the clubhouse, and then call it a day unless a Myers or Stanton become available. I think Myers IS available, and that KC may exhaust their other possibilities soon. Erasmo and Franklin might look real good when the prices of free agent pitchers get set by Greinke and Sanchez, and Tampa Bay decides they need Hosmer and/or Moustakas along with Myers for their arms.  

If that would come to pass, I would hope that JackZ would spend his FA money on Sanchez, keep the draft pick, and trade the extra arms at the point in the season when other teams have a rotation hole, and maximize our return then. Or, see if Minnesota would give us Aaron Hicks for the arms. When Bay/Morse/Wells/Morrison start to fade, we'd have someone to compete with Landry for the spot.

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pointsette's picture

pointsette

Disagree that Miller is a better SS or has a better arm. I have seen both players in spring training. Franklin is more smooth and plays like he is from the Dominican. Miller is more like a Michael Saunders body type.

I expected more from Miller being older and out of college. Miller needs AT LEAST another year in the hot spot. With his 30+ errors this year would you want him playing SS at the Big League level next year? In fact, there isn't ANY interest in him from other teams. So, we need to sit on him for a while.

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This is an odd year - lots of teams flush with new media revenue; lots of teams with a reasonable expectation of being within striking distance of the wild card. It's kind of a perfect storm for prospect under valuation and veteran over valuation. This is a tough off season to try and trade cheap, unproven players for expensive veterans. The economics of prospects have changed again.

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SABR MattWell in 2015, the Mariners will travel about 82% as much as they did in 2014.2 min 47 sec ago
MtGrizzlyInteresting. Armstrong is the gift that keeps on giving. No transition strategy? Sloppy management, that.31 min 25 sec ago
bsrOne other tidbit, Mather says it's not primarily Safeco that turns off players from coming to Seattle, it's the excessive travel. And says he's been pressing the new commish heavily for some improvement on this front, but it'll likely take a year or two to see anything happen.1 hour 28 min ago
bsrMather also reveals (in so many words) that Z would have been gone if this year hadn't gone well, though they were hoping not to have to cut him loose. He also talks quite candidly about how unprepared he was for the baseball ops side of the President job, how Chuck Armstrong never told him anything about it. A little disheartening given the missed LaRussa opportunity but on the flip side, it comes across that he is far more hands off with the GM. Which I would say is better on balance than having a meddlesome prez like Chuck who thinks he knows baseball.1 hour 30 min ago
bsrWorth listening to the entire Mather interview, but basically the key quote was: "We need to be 85 to 95 wins every year...we need to be competitive year-in, year-out". That is very clearly the M's org philosophy at this point. For better or worse. Reminds me a lot of the famous Pete Carroll philosophy, "Win (8-12 Games a Year) Forever"...sorry, so hard not to be cynical about these bland Mariner rallying cries. But I do appreciate their emphasis on not having a long losing drought again. That clearly seems to have been a scarring experience for ownership and management.1 hour 35 min ago
MtGrizzlyI think it's funny that the ownership committee is shooting for 93 wins before the off season even starts. 93 should secure a wild card, so I guess that is what they are aiming for.3 hours 6 min ago
DaddyOIt is just like the Mariners to amplify just how much agony they endure at any expenditure increase, and how grateful what they wish was a sycophantic fan base should be.6 hours 39 min ago
MtGrizzlyFrom mlbtr: "The Mariners, Mather explained, overshot their allotted player personnel budget by nearly $16MM in 2014. However, ownership had no complaints after seeing the team’s strong performance. Rather than asking how the $16MM would be recouped, they instead asked Mather how the team was going to get six more wins in 2015."22 hours 19 min ago
mojicianBe sure to tune into the shoutbox if you ever want to hear tomorrow's news today. :)1 day 4 hours ago
mojicianI'd like the record to reflect that I called a Giants World Series win on the night of the NL Wild Card game and right before the World Series started. My foresight is not quite 20-20, so I predicted a series win in five games. I want bragging rights and a bracket of some kind.1 day 4 hours ago
MtGrizzlyTo be fair, it's not as if Smoak had any success with his 'old' batting mechanics.1 day 13 hours ago
moethedogModern coaches would probably try to fix M. Ott or S. Oh!2 days 2 hours ago
moethedogChanging a hitter's stroke is more tricky than we wish to admit. There is a lot of investment by a player that has to be discarded, some can't do it. Many struggle because the stroke they have is their natural one, and the right one given their particular set of physical skills, make-up, vision, etc. Just telling a player to "go the other way" and assuming that fixes him is problematic, as is much "teaching" in that regard. PGA Tour-level players regularly "lose it" as they try to make mechanical fixes, some never get it back. What we think is purely mechanical is often bio-mechanical, meaning that a persons body optimally functions is a certain way. "Fixing" that may not be a fix. You older guys will remember Keith "Silk" Wilkes, the former UCLA and NBA player. He had a completely weird jump shot stroke that you would teach to nobody...but it worked.2 days 2 hours ago
moethedog"Fixing" it would have been disastrous. I think both Smoak and Ackley have been "fixed" to death. leaving them alone would have been a much better option. Some guys can be changed for the better. Some can't. Leave those guys alone. Hitting coaches (like swing coaches) are paid to coach, so they do. But I think in the majority of cases they would be better (at the MLB level) if they just said, "Swing a lighter bat" or "stand closer to the plate" or "take a day off" a lot more than they do. Not every problem can be "mechanically" fixed.2 days 2 hours ago
DaddyOI hope Smoak figures how to carve out a productive MLB career for himself. Meanwhile, he remains just one of a number of M's can't-miss hitting prospects who so far have sputtered and missed. A team can only pitch so well. Meanwhile they have to score some runs. Of course that sentiment is preaching to the choir.2 days 3 hours ago
SABR MattMcClendon's impulse to get Smoak to hit the opposite way and get on top of the ball was, (assuming this analysis is correct) the right thing to instruct. Smoak wanted to be a power hitter though. A power hitter's brain with a contact hitter's actual power because his swing was greedy and mechanically flawed.2 days 4 hours ago
SABR MattJust had an interesting discussion with a hitting instructor who used to intern with the Yankees the year I was there about Smoak. He thinks the Mariners fouled up Smoak's swing mechanics. He sees in Smoak's vids, a guy who starts the bat head too low in the zone and whose swing is too wristy, meaning when he wants to hit for power (gets a cookie pitch), he is going to have to swing up at the ball and the barrell will be at both an upper-cutting and a hinged (pullside) angle. If he squares it up with that funky contact plane, the ball will be a very high fly ball (subject to warning track outs)...and if he gets funny contact, he will ground out to the pull side. Hey...remind me again...what were Smoak's main out types? When he looked at scouting vids of early Smoak...he didn't start the bat head too low and his swing was way less wristy.2 days 4 hours ago
Bat571I suspect the Ms let Blake walk, though. If he's smart, he'll run to the D'backs and sign for whatever to get a chance to work with Dave Duncan. He's the classic Duncan project - big RH that doesn't overpower people and needs to learn how to pitch.2 days 22 hours ago
Bat571Griz - I think Blake Beavan is still in the org. He was outrighted to Tacoma in August, and can become a free agent if not put back on the 40-man by a date that's pretty soon or signed to a new minor league deal, but the Ms still have a shred of the return left.2 days 22 hours ago
DaddyOThis has nothing to do with current conversations, but I sure like Joe Panik. Not just his stats, but the way he plays the game. This guy is going to be a fixture for a LONG time.3 days 35 min ago