Franklin Gutierrez a Mariner

Q.  Is SSI a Franklin Gutierrez fan?  To what extent?

A.  I'm a huge Gutierrez fan, both in terms of his performance and in terms of his persona.  This is the guy you want to build around.

A sensei of ours once pointed out, "If you want to force somebody else to take an extreme position, take an extreme position yourself."  Zen-like wisdom on his part. 

Ever since then, we've watched the world go by, watched this happen.  People claim that the Earth is as fragile as porcelain, that it would end in literally 5 years due to greenhouse gasses... and then watch those who disagree argue by, um, saying that pollution is no serious problem whatsoever. 

It's a law of physics, equal and opposite reaction.  If you argued that pollution is a moderate, not Apocalyptic problem, you'd be seen as basically signing off on the radical position ... :- ) in order to counter exaggeration, you've almost got to overstate your own point.  Siiiggghhhh.

Cyber-Seattle has literally argued that 4th outfielders are better players than Bobby Abreu, that Mike Cameron at age 36 is better than Jason Bay at 29, that Adam Jones is more valuable than the best pitcher in the AL, etc.  The sales pitch on defense forces SSI to argue against Franklin Gutierrez' MVP candidacy.


Franklin Gutierrez is:

  1. A terrific defender even by CF standards
  2. Playing in the middle of the field
  3. With an average-solid, even better, bat

Those players are impact players.  Take the best defender at SS, 2B or CF, and if he hits for a 105 OPS+, he is a terrific ballplayer.   Imagine if Jack Wilson hit for a 105 OPS+.

My 1972-76 Reds had 80-OPS hitters at SS and CF, but those were legit Gold Glove defenders.  Earl Williams would play Mark Belanger and Paul Blair at SS and CF. 

Those are the two spots where legit Gold Gloves help you win pennants.  If Belanger or Blair or Geronimo had hit for 100 OPS+ players, they'd have been key pieces of championships.  .... oh, wait ...


Q.  Is Guti's contract a bargain at $5m per?

A.  It's in line with what arb players get.  The fact that Guti threw us an FA year is awesome, and the key to the deal for the M's.

It is unusual for a young player to become above major-league average so early in his career.   Guti's contract underlines what a coup it is, to find a club-controls player who is not only adequate, but actually good.  Every good club-controls player is doing a whale of a lot to win his team a pennant.

In roto terms, when you buy Matt Tuiasosopo for $5 and then he becomes the league's #6 third baseman .... well, the teams that do that wind up winning their leagues.

A cheap club-controls player or two positions you to purchase an extra star or two.


Q.  What is Guti's best role?

A.  First off:  if Gutierrez hits for a 100 OPS+, then being a GG-class CF, he is a whale of a player.  

Guti doesn't have to hit a ton to be a championship player.  But the Mariners do need some other players to hit for a ton.

Bill James points out, with certain overrated players, that they shouldn't be pressured to hit #3-#4-#5.  They should be appreciated as guys who chip in nicely for somebody who hits #7.


Q.  What's the prospectus for 2010?

A.  Guti has excellent natural leverage on the ball, with a compact swing, quiet head and CG.  Standing in the box, he looks like a potential hitting star.   But there's something about his quickness, or hand-eye something, that just doesn't hit me right.

This echoes Mike Cameron, who has a gorgeous swing but just seems to swing weirdly through half of the mistake pitches he gets.


HQ on Guti for 2010:

  1. The positives:  improving EYE (.29 to .31 to .38), and is improving vs RHP's
  2. Flyball % and power dropping off as he gets older
  3. Defense, not offense, will be his route to 575 AB's yearly
  4. Expected batting average (.250) says he won't repeat 2009
  5. Projection:  267/319/413 with 4.4 runs per game

Most MC/SSI'ers note the (subtly) improving K/BB's and figure Guti's ready to explode.  Maybe, but note that it looks like he is cutting down his swing.  (It looks like that to me visually, too.)

Guti's flyballs in three years have gone from 42% to 41% to 36%, which will zap his HR's, but ironically, will help him retain a 100 OPS+ in Safeco.

Guti is young and objectively speaking, he does have upside remaining, maybe a lot of it.  I don't expect him to hit it, especially in Safeco, but then again I wasn't even sure he'd hit for a 100 OPS+.


Q.  Nice to have him around, neh?

A.  Even at a 100 OPS+, Guti's worth $10-15m per year.  If he provides more offense, and that could happen, it's all gravy.

Very similar to Jose Lopez' prospectus.  Maybe those two young guys should both be appreciated. 


Dr D



I've been a Gutz fan from early on.  I think your take on him is spot-on - and I appreciate that being one of those "defense-is-underrated" people, that it is very easy for such a position to become extremist.  (While it is the nature of the human beast to believe THEIR foibles are reasonable -- I will note that I believe up-the-middle defense is largely underrated by the current defensive systems, while corner defensive whizzes are likely vastly over-rated -- but that's another discussion).
The part of this signing I like is the psychological impact.  Gutz comes in, performs wonderfully.  The club becomes the #1 defensive team in baseball, and Gutz posts a 103 OPS+.  The club is in the position where they don't HAVE to reward him.  They could go to arb - or they could do single-year arb buyouts -- basically, because he's team-controlled, the club has all the leverage TODAY.  But, the club goes ahead and rewards the guy financially for a job well done - BUT, they aren't grossly overpaying for the buyout -- just paying reasonable market for his performance.
The juxtaposition here is the Johjima deal -- coming in the midst of HORRIBLE performance, the club gives the 3/24 extension -- (while having THREE Catcher prospects in the near-ready chute in the wings).  When you reward failure, you undermine all incentive for anyone else to work hard.  When you reward production -- you set a precedent for the rest of the club.
Yuni -- gone.  Beltre -- gone.  Wlad -- gone. 
The club is (apparently) continuing to negotiate with Branyan.  Even if the club doesn't reach an agreement there -- the fact they didn't RUSH out and toss him aside for Dunn (among others), is a plus.  Yes, the guys understand it's a business.  They know money is involved, and there are lots of factors that influence decisions.  But, at the end of the day, *EVERY* employee for every company wants to believe that excellent performance is appreciated by those they work for. 
I've noted before you cannot just SAY you're a good org to work for.  You have to back up the rhetoric with action.  If you say you want to be the best defensive team in baseball and go out and sign Adam Dunn and Manny for your OF, the rhetoric actually becomes detrimental.  The result is WORSE for having made the statement.


Considering the Mariners have traded the essentially useless Hall and a C prospect for Kotchman, I figure it's worth figuring out what the good doctor thinks of this deal.
Actually...I'd be curious what Braves fan Sandy thinks.

M-Pops's picture

According to fangraphs, as of July of '09, LaRoche=Kotchman:
Z just spun Hall into LaRoche's equivilent for a PTBNL.  This is almost as good as turning Silva into Bradley.
The M's now have THREE draws at the "26 year-old with MLB experience" breakout-pile, coming into next season: Lopez, Gutierrez, and now Kotchman.  What kind of odds do you give someone who called Zobrist's and Jackson's '09?
I was previously unaware of a cheap GG, LH, 1B with upside, other than Gonzalez :P 
Go Z!


I certainly agree that it's good to have as many 26 year olds as you can. :)  I don't think Kotchman has big upside the way Zobrist did, but he's certainly capable of a .300/.370/.430 brand of .800 OPS which would not be the worst thing i the world.


The part of this signing I like is the psychological impact.  Gutz comes in, performs wonderfully.  The club becomes the #1 defensive team in baseball, and Gutz posts a 103 OPS+.  The club is in the position where they don't HAVE to reward him.
Was Bavasi's trademark as well.  In the 21st century this becomes almost a must, as opposed to a personal stamp on your org.
Which is why the M's treatment of Russell Branyan is so puzzling.  The guy made peanuts, performed awesomely, and ..... yuk.
They must be terrified about the back?


My posts weren't a reaction to your post there... nice to see an alternative view up on Kotch...
In an ideal world, Kotch has his age-27 season kinda like Nick J had his age-26 season, decides to hit the ball in the air a bit, and becomes ... a mediocrity.
;- )


The funny part is...I knew you were gonna be ticked off about this trade. :)

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