Are you SURE You're a STARTER?
Little train that could, Dept.


My fave NFL Street trash line.  It scores if delivered with just the right, friendly, quizzical tone.  "Are you sure you're a starter?"


Yes, Zduriencik's Sure


moethedog, in the shout Box:

From MLBTR and Brewers GM Doug Melvin: In also noting that the trade market for first baseman was thin, Melvin acknowledged he had at least had discussions with the Rangers and Mariners. "There just aren't available guys. Texas, at this point, is not willing to talk about [Mitch] Moreland. Seattle is not interested in moving their guys. So, there aren't a lot of choices."

Really....We're not interested? Man, I'm surprised.


CRUNCH:  Hunh!  On Zduriencik's radio show, they were all like "So how much time does LoMo get, versus Hart, vs anybody else?  And he was all like, No, no, Justin Smoak IS our first baseman.  You know, the way he would say that Kyle Seager is our third baseman.  I doubt that Zduriencik would have been as decisive about, say, Brad Miller.

Thought that was odd at the time, ya.  I waved it off as a compliment to Smoak's defense, but ... the convergence of Zduriencik's tone on the radio, with Mo' Dawg's linkup, I guess the Mariners want to give the 2014 season to the Smoakamotive.



Here, we'll reprise Baseball Forecaster, on the Smoak-a-Motive.  As you know, LrKrBoi29 is unable to presume that Ron Shandler is biased by his Mariner-istic wishful thinking.

Sez Ron, vis-a-vis this Post-Hype Prospect:

  • xPX (152!) shows he's ready to take a step up as a HR source
  • Good walks
  • CON:  won't hit for average
  • Will never quite be the Morneau* type that SEA envisioned but
  • Power is blossoming and 30-35 HR very feasible

Actually, in the past, we've done some video breakdowns of Smoak's plate coverage.  We've seen him handle, and drive, all kinds of pitches in all sectors of the plate.  And when he's right, he can take pitches out the other way.  

You might be surprised just how good a hitter, sometimes, a .260-.270 power guy is.  Jay Buhner was quite a craftsman at the plate.  

But the thing is, I always thought of Smoak as a HIT tool first, a PWR guy second.  Apparently we had this inverted!  With his power outage in 2012, we got an image of John Olerud burned into our brains.  During the 2013 season, Smoak morphed into more of an Adam Dunn type, and this will be the key to roto-projecting him in 2014.


The Mariners wallow in their proprietary Batted Ball Velocity data.  The hitter it underlines is Justin Smoak.  (xPX is also based on BIP velocity, and Smoak's 152 is a lot higher than that of Billy Butler; in fact it's equal to Ryan Braun's 150 and not far behind Miguel Cabrera's 160.)

Smoak has, it says here, a good 50% or better chance of jelling as a .250/.340/.480 type batter with 32 home runs and 90 RBI.  Comparable hitters:  Jay Bruce, Carlos Quentin.

There is a scenario in which the Mariners lose 100 games.  There is also a scenario in which Carlos Quentin is their 6th-best hitter.


Dr D





I'll bet you my baseball cap against your two caps that Smoak has a breakout year.  "Breakout year" voted on by SSI readers at the end of the year.  :: daps ::
I like to have a little bit the best of any wager, or else we'll just hafta find some game of skill.  Not golf, though, Moe. - Amarillo Slim


To tell you the truth, Doc, my astonishment was more that we weren't willing to discuss trading LoMo. I've accepted the fact that there is something Z sees in Smoak...or is addicted to. I've always said that Smoaky had that one "Kotchman" year in him (not the BA, mind you)....and I think Z assumes that, too. That's the "gelling" that Doc mentions. But the issue has always been; Just how many blah years do you wait for that one Yes! year to show up. There isn't much indication (besides velocity numbers, which haven't translted to BABIP very well in Smoak's case) that his "Kotch" year is imminent. Smoak's 1st-half of '13 was the type of Yes! we're talking about: .272-.373-.431, although trading some of those walks for a few more doubles would be nifty. His 2nd-half '13 was more of the Smoak we've come to know and cringe at: 203-.294-.392. His '331 BABIP (unsustainable considering his career .261) fell to an ugly .220.
All in all, he's been 1B-men go. And he's Brendan Ryan at the plate vs LHP, to boot.
However, he's ours and we love him. That said, I would like to know just what Milwaukee was willing to offer up for he or Morrison. I also consider it likely that in any given year you could get "Smoaky" levels of performance from Romero and Choi or Tenbrink? Romero couldn't have gone .202-.294-.392 for 3 months?
Smoak will have his 50-game run this year....smothered by a 80-game disappearance. Well......most likely.
Z is holding on, just in case this year is it.
Lay 'yer money down.
Edit: Doc, if you're saying that Smoak has a 50% chance of gelling THIS year, well I'll take that bet.


Is .240-.340-.430 a breakout year? Those would be career best numbers for Smoak? Lyle Overbay, 2010 is a breakout year? Overbay was basically the 16th best 1B in the game that year. Completely average, considering that 31 1B guys had 75 games and 425 PA's. Mind you, I'll be tickled if Smoak gets there and I can buy that as being a 50/50 shot. .250-.340-.480 is a bit different. Only 4 fulltime 1B in the game, last year, had slashes that were each better than .240-.320-.475 AND had 25+ homers: Goldschmidt/Davis/Encarcion/Moss. Drop the homer minimum to 23 and you add Votto, Napoli, Lind and Freeman.
Only 17 fulltime guys in the game had the slash numbers you posited. Drop the slugging to .450 and you're all the way up to 20. .250-.340-.480 makes Smoak darn elite. Only 21 guys hit 25 homers and slugged .475. But if you're right Doc, then our offense get's really healthy, real quick.
BTW, Amarillo Slim knew his betting games, didn't he. I imagine he even got 2-1 on more than a few coin flips.
BTW redux: I highly recommend the book "Titanic Thompson: The Man who Bet on Everything." Two thumbs WAY up.
What a wild character. It is almost not even worth trying to describe his life, you just have to read about it. but briefly: He is rumored to be the real-life model for Damon Runyon's character, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls (which I watched on AMC the other day).
He claimed to have killed 5 guys, and he married 5 women (all teenagers...and all of who he treated well, sort of). He traveled the country in a Pierce-Arrow with a suitcase full of cash, swindling rubes with games of "chance" that he had incredibly mastered. As well, he was a golf hustler who would beat the local bests both left AND right handed, long before the PGA Tour ever had legs.
Thompson was also a driving force behind what has been called the greatest big money stakes match in golf history. He helped set up a match between a 21-year old Ray Floyd and a young El Paso pro named Lee Trevino. Backers of both thought they had a ringer. Over three days of hard core heavy betting Floyd and Trevino lit up the course, with Thompson finally getting his losses back on the final hole, which Floyd eagled.
Trevino talks about it here:
Thompson knew Capone, played stroke for stroke with Hogan, hung out with Arnold Rothstein (of the Black Sox scandal) and buddied with Minnesota Fats.
The book is really a terrific read. Go get it. Thank me later.

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