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



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?

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

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?


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.

ghost's picture

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

Lonnie of MC's picture

... 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 :)


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.


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.


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


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.


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.

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?

M's Watcher's picture

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.


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?


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.

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Chat: 8/28/15 1:16pm
Interests: Environment Money Technology Baseball Politics (212680)
    Shouts update every 10 seconds.       
2015-08-30 00:02

I like how you compare the downloading to the evolution of a player. Two very different things.

2015-08-29 22:11

Wow, got in the car after watching and listening to Randy Newman in a deluge at St. Michelle, to hear about the final inning. What a finish. Welcome to the bigs, Mr. Hicks. Appropriately, Randy played #Louisiana 1927 (Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline), followed by I Love LA, because, Randy Newman.

Reply - crackerjack - 8/30/15 12:03am
That's pretty appropriate.
2015-08-29 19:42

ChiSox playing Macklemore against the Mariners. That's good ribbing right there.

Reply - crackerjack - 8/30/15 12:03am
Of course it has to be Macklemore.
2015-08-29 19:39

Barharhar. Seager at Short.

2015-08-29 19:28

Which is exactly what happened. Go figure!!! Posted the first when Marte looked a bit dinged but before the inning ended. Badly played Lloyd!!

Reply - crackerjack - 8/30/15 12:04am
Dang, too early of a call to make.
2015-08-29 19:26

Thinking about it, Lloyd's PH'ing #Jackson for Miller was a poor move. If Marte got dinged, then he would have to move Seager to SS and Hicks or Montero to 3B. If he wanted #Jackson in CF then he should have subbed him for Smith.

2015-08-29 19:14

Grumpy - that's exactly what I find perplexing. So many logical, sensible, apparently sharp moves just seemed to backfire for no reason that's easy to identify. (I would maintain the same was partially true in Bavasi's case.)
Have often predicted that if you, I, or Harry attempted a GM run, exactly the same thing would happen to us ... fortunately, a surgical procedure is (seems) a little easier to "capture" than is a GM's job in general :- )
Definitely easy to empathize with Zduriencik on that front ...

Reply - crackerjack - 8/30/15 12:17am
Sometimes it feel like there's just no reason for an off night.
2015-08-29 18:53

I think Mather is right seeking an experienced leader, but not quite for the reasons he states. In fact, I think #Lincoln would be every bit as much of a barrier to progress as Scioscia was in #Anaheim by constantly questioning anything (most things) #Baseball that he doesn't understand. Someone in between that can explain things while letting/keeping the frustration-level of the GM be from team performance, not extraneous matters is absolutely required. #Lincoln represents the ownership, and, for better or worse, is entitled to understand what he's paying for. But I'm VERY skeptical the time he will need in explanation will help a GM get to his job.

2015-08-29 18:39

DiPoto is VERY interesting; a former player with a strong analytical bent. If the RedSox don't make him their GM, I'd love to see him here. BUT... he'd be exactly the kind of guy that would benefit, in my mind, from a "#Baseball guy" in an oversight role to buffer him from #Lincoln & Co. Whether they hired Beinfest or a Dan O'Dowd-type isn't really as important as the "translator"/"buffer" function to prevent the analytical insights being swamped by #Politics and administrivia from above. Beinfest's experience with Loria makes me believe that, along with a proven development background, he could really help a GM who has a forward-looking analytical background but lacks the "old-guy" experience in keeping people accountable and smoothing things upstairs.

2015-08-29 18:00

What about Jerry DiPoto? What do we think of him...he is reportedly a candidate in #Seattle.

2015-08-29 17:24

That said, having a good personality makes Mather way better than any other M's exec in a long time. Hoping that the evident humility he consistently displays will indeed lead him to consult someone wise to help him find a combo great #Baseball mind and strong leader. And then get out of the way and let that person fix this damaged org.

2015-08-29 17:11

IMO the best way to understand the Mariners as an org is that they're a case study of the Peter Principle in action. Every significant person is above their level of competency (minus one now that Jack is gone). So they all just sit there year after year and do...stuff. Mather admitting that he's "not a #Baseball guy" but don't worry because he has other people who he will talk to about how to find a good GM... Peter Principle. The only difference between him and the other PP poster boys #Lincoln and Chuck is that he's got a pleasant personality. -bsr

2015-08-29 16:40

And now the box is back...either something was really wonky on my end or the admins made a change. Apologies if the former...thanks if the latter. :)

2015-08-29 16:34

I'm sorry...but why on Earth did the admins here think it was a good idea to force you to open a pop-up window to shout? That is extremely #Mobile un-friendly, and, even on my desktop computer, is a major disincentive for me to post. The extra click, the pop-up window that deadens the rest of the site behind a gray wall, and the tiny box to type in...seriously...what were you thinking?

2015-08-29 14:32

One emphatic suggestion. The new Shout entry box is much too small both vertically and horizontally. It's suddenly as constricting as the old site's box.

2015-08-29 14:30

To me one of the really damning aspects of Jack's tenure has been the collapse of our top farm talent that was supposed to be the next wave. There were supposed to be some serious hitters in there, and NONE of them have panned out so far as I can tell. It's one thing to have a badly disappointing MLB season that was supposed to validate your regime. It's another to have that happen the same year your future base proves to not necessarily be the future base.

2015-08-29 14:27

Here's some things that we have now that we didn't have on the previous site.

1. Fairly quick load times (this was a MAJOR problem before)
2. Much longer shouts available.
3. Something I tend to forget, but the ability to edit shouts.

2015-08-29 13:52

Why is the open window to submit a shout right from the main screen now gone and I have to click this stupid reply arrow and bring up a pop-up window to shout now? Really...not cool.

2015-08-29 13:35

No blame until this season from me, grump. I've actually supported the guy, for many of the same reasons you've laid out. I think he's made one good managerial decision and that was in hiring Wak, who I liked. That ended quickly when he chose Figgins over his manager. That was a fruit loopy decision, I felt. But we're 7 years into his reign and we're nowhere, right where we were. He had a good shot. He made some good callas and some poor ones. But in the end...he didn't get it done.

2015-08-29 11:58

Playing Guti regularly in Tacoma through May on a minor league field while he was crushing the ball was a real headscratcher. We saw what happened to Flores.

Why management wouldn't let Jack sign Cruz last season was another head scratcher. Ffor steroids violation? We're talking the Mariners here. Boone, Monahan, half the minor league system, it's part of our glorious heritage! For all we know, Guti was juicing, but how would anyone know? He was inactive for so long there was probably no chance to test him. With all his maladies, it would have been a cruel joke as well.

2015-08-29 09:30

There is a lot of talent assembled here for 2016. Definitely find someone who knows how to establish order and confidence right off the bat. But we're going to have to really luck into it.

Failure to sign Cruz last season was the telling blow. Give Jack authority to do the move and we're talking something completely different this season. At worst, we're discussing how hard it is to maintain top level success. Jack learned from the Leuke fiasco (heck, he got us Jaso out of it). But ownership freaked on him - stupidly.

But leaving Gutierrez to marinate in Tacoma (playing in a AAA field no less) while we shuffled through Weeks, Ackley, and traded our catcher stoploss to pick up Trumbo, etc. - I didn't get that. We waited too long and the answer of what to do while Cano went through his thing was a short drive away - and freely available.

Reply - IcebreakerX - 8/29/15 7:41pm
Gutierrez seriously made no sense. Almost EVERY TIME he came back from injury, he'd hit like he'd always hit and put a few in the seats. Why waste his limited swings to AAA?
2015-08-29 08:56

Looks like they will be looking for youngish, analytical, super nerd brainiac to fill the void. luckily they are in #Seattle. This should help in the quest.

2015-08-29 08:14

OTOH I really didn't like the way he handled:
-The Morrow trade
-The Fister trade
Nor can I really speak to the interoffice #Politics Baker comments on.

2015-08-29 08:10

I don't get the Z hate (maybe hate is too strong but you know what I mean). He's been terribly unlucky.
-Guti woukd have been a multiple allstar at at glove position if not for illness.
-Really at least one of Ackley/Smoak/Montero should have worked out. These guys were universally recognized as top flight prospects (well Taro did have his doubts about Smoak). If even one had worked out or if a couple of them had become ML average we'd be in good shape.
-He tried to bring in Cruze in 2014. That would have put us in the playoffs last year.
-He brought in role players like Morse and Morales that picked their time with the Ms to have career worst/injury years sandwiched between years where they were solid contributors to playoff teams.
-Yes you can expect pitcher injuries, but *all three* of Hultzen/Walker/Paxton have spent significant time down which has also hampered their development.
-In a make or break year Cano has a career worst illness impaired 1st half. Back to normal now but too late.

Reply - anonymous - 8/29/15 8:13am
Ya, I'd day this goes far beyond 2014 though. Definately has had bad luck, but not the first year the team underperformed
Reply - IcebreakerX - 8/29/15 7:38pm
Sometimes you have luck... Sometimes you make it. Much like Snelling or Saunders getting hurt all the time, Z never had an inkling of luck. He'll get lucky somewhere, but a black hole would appear somewhere else. I don't attribute that to luck. I attribute that to Z.
2015-08-29 04:57

“I expect a better brand of #Baseball accountability, acceptance of young players" That's from Z's letter to Wak, a month before he canned him. Yet in '09 the only young (less than 26) fulltime players we had were Lopez (who had a very nice year in 613 AB's) and Wlad, who was given a chance and didn't come through. 22 year old Saunders came up late and had a 45 OPS. BTW, we were 10 games over Pythag that year. In '10, Saunders had LF handed to him, we got Smoak late and even Tui had 138 AB's. It was the veterans Figgins and Bradley who were deadly! Fister was youngish at 26 that year. I suppose Wak mishandled him, Z?

2015-08-28 18:55

Baker weighs in. Wow. http://www.seattleti...

Reply - Browns8625 - 8/29/15 8:16am
Really outlined the issue.. constant changes within regimes will not lead to prolong success
2015-08-28 16:52

Ah, thanks for clarifying, okdan. I understand what you're saying.

My take? Doc has his reasons for going this route. We just don't know what those reasons are. Perhaps if we DID know we would understand, perhaps we would even understand that it's best we don't know.

And there are real people behind the creation and maintenance of this site who you've gotta figure are doing the best they can. Admittedly they face some challenges.

2015-08-28 15:52

That was me - okdan.

2015-08-28 15:52

I am as big of a supporter / fan / devotee / reader of Doc as anyone. SSI has been one of my top 5 websites for nearly a decade. It makes me sad to see how the site has deteriorated. The frustrating part is that the quality of the #Technology and infrastructure doesn't do justice to the effort and quality content that Doc churns out. If anything, my frustrations with this site are *because* I respect Doc so much. There is no shortage of free website templates out there, that with simple configuration would be light years better than this one. And when you're talking about a simple blog, the hosting costs per month are not significant. I bet just between the frequent posters here we could easily cover it.

2015-08-28 14:48

And we both recognize that Doc is not following the dominant model. It's part of what makes Doc...Doc.

I agree with you that the new Klat site has brought some frustrations and unexpected complications. But to me (and to many, I hope) those hiccups are worth enduring because of the unique offering that is SSI. Of course, everyone has to decide that for themselves, and it's reasonable for someone to make a different choice.

I'm not trying to pick on you, just sticking up for a friend who I've never met but much appreciate.

Reply - Browns8625 - 8/29/15 8:19am
Well put daddyo, I have not been on here long to see the changes and hiccups you are all outlining, but I'd stick with and see what happens
Reply - crackerjack - 8/30/15 12:25am
I'm usually just lurking, but I think it will keep getting better. It's always changing and improving.
2015-08-28 14:40

DaddyO, when I say "free" I mean free to users. That's the dominant model. Even if ads are part of the financial side and pay for the operating cost of the service, users mostly don't pay on the internet. There are some exceptions here and there, but mostly that's how it works.

Reply - crackerjack - 8/30/15 12:24am
Very true, and I'd rather see an ad on the site than have to pay for it, myself.
2015-08-28 14:36

And they have a big Netflix banner ad at the top. My "notice things" skills are definitely deteriorating!

Reply - crackerjack - 8/30/15 12:22am
That's kind of annoying. Is it based on ad preferences?
2015-08-28 14:35

Well now that I scroll further down on SB pages they do have ads buried down there.

2015-08-28 14:34

Well, now that I look at SB Nation it looks like they do provide ad-free service. More power to 'em. More power to Doc too.

2015-08-28 14:32

All I'm sayin' is, Doc pays good #Money out of his own pocket to provide this place. No ads to offset his costs, or his labor. He provides his insightful and unique commentary for free. And it's a good thing he does, because I couldn't afford it if he did! I can't imagine anything appropriately called a "social media service" doing that.

Reply - Browns8625 - 8/29/15 8:21am
Sounds like, from what I'm reading, I should read more Doc articles. Still learning ins and out of site.
2015-08-28 14:15

Almost all social media services are free. I don't think SBNation would just delete people's comments at random.

2015-08-28 14:11

HEY! Some really high class commentary by superior minds like us (heh heh!). Just GONE!

'Tis the WORLD's loss! 'Tis a cruel fate! 'Tis...'Tis...(DaddyO composes himself)...Aw, it's just some stuff we wrote off the top of our head that will be forgotten tomorrow anyway.

We have a RIGHT to demand more from a site where ... where ...umm ...uhh ...we don't pay ... a nickel...for so much...enjoyment. Hard to complain bout that!

Last evening in the sixth inning of a crucial game in the LLWS our cable went out for a few hours. And we pay a BUNCH for that service.

It's all good! Thanks Doc for the #Environment you provide for all us. For nuttin'.

Reply - crackerjack - 8/30/15 12:27am
Ha! That's a pretty accurate assessment for content lost on the web. I get irritated when something I post somewhere is lost, but you're right. If you want it, think about backing it up.
Reply - crackerjack - 8/30/15 12:28am
There's also Internet wayback, but it only captures pieces here and there. They say once it's on the net it's there forever. Maybe not?
2015-08-28 14:04

SSI used to be my first stop every morning, even before checking my email. Now, well... this site has made me not want to visit nearly as much as before. And that is saying a lot, considering how much I love Jeff's writing. I thought the initial clunkiness might be resolved, but apparently I was mistaken. Sorry to be so negative, and I realize that it is a free site and I am not entitled to anything, but seeing so many of today's shouts vanish sort of pushed me over the edge.

Reply - Richard - 8/28/15 3:52pm
Thank you for letting us know about the issue(s). We are working hard to improve performance and remove the clunkiness... I hope that you'll continue to let us know how we are doing.
2015-08-28 13:16

You can bet things will speed up.from here now that he is gone

2015-08-28 13:16

Yeah right today's shouts vanished.. was excited to see reaction to the Jack farewell tour

Reply - Richard - 8/28/15 5:32pm
The "lost" shouts are in the previous conversation - they were accidentally moved to last year. Sorry sports writers - we will try to not have this happen again!