Hannahan, Lopez, and Tuiasosopo - 2

=== I had you at hello, but take this with you Dept. ===

Consider, in proportion, that Yuniesky Betancourt would be a better SS, both offensively and defensively, than Shannahan.

If it's okay for 30 games, it's okay for 150.

None of this would matter, IFF Shannahan had some other reason for existing on the M's roster.   If you were saying, hey, Mark McLemore is our super-sub and okay, he's below par at short but the total package is a winner, that would be fine.


=== Whiz Kid Dept. ===

Matt Tuiasosopo could play short, sure, and undoubtedly much better than Jack Hannahan could. 

Back in the 1970's, it used to be common to bring up blue-chippers and have them take 200 AB's as benchies.  They learned in the vid room, talking with the vets on the bench, all that stuff.  They didn't get in the day-in, day-out groove, but they learned the league. 

A lot of these guys -- I remember George Foster and Hal McRae as benchies for the Big Red Machine -- then took over starting jobs and destroyed the league from Day One.


But, if I wanted Tui learning how to hit Angels' pitchers from Cheney, then I'd go get a real ML shortstop to play utility.  The reason is that the fringe ML shortstops can hit just as well as Jack Hannahan.

You understand my passion here.  Hannahan is a great athlete in absolute terms, but fringe players are fringe players.  I don't want to say dead-end player, because Hannahan's a pro and evidently a good buy.

But Matt Tuiasosopo is a blue-chip prospect.  Which do you want to invest AB's in?  You might as well pick Casey Kotchman over Mike Carp.

Once more, we'll nod to Zduriencik's urgency with respect to the 2010 pennant.  I love that part of it.


=== The Upside, Dept. ===

The cool part about using your 3B/1B as a backup SS is if you're essentially deciding to play without a backup middle infielder.  Now, that gives you a type of 26-man roster, and some compensation for the price associated.


I have no doubt at all that if Jack Hannahan could hit .300/.400/.500, he'd be widely hooted as a backup shortstop.  But since he hits .190/.290/.190, he'll be okay there.

I'm not trying to be overly tough on Hannahan; ML managers have the right to a rah-rah guy in the 25 slot.  We're good-naturedly pointing out that this isn't the best idea these wunnerful shot-callers ever had.

Jack is the new Willie.  But this time around he's accepted. 

Okay by me,

Dr D


Taro's picture

Hannahan is Bloomquist if Bloomquist were waaaay better defensively.
Hes not the most ideal bench player for the team since we have more of a need for a backup SS though. I'd prefer him as AAA insurance for now, but if Hannahan can play a quality SS then hes the guy. We'll see I guess. If Hannahan can't be at least average at SS, he won't last long with Z's quick trigger finger.


that Jack Hannahan is necessarily inferior to either Jose Lopez or Matt Tuiasosopo simply because he lacks experience at the position.  There is a pretty obvious level of talent in Jack Hannahan's leather.  True, he's never been tested at shortstop in any real sense; but is that because it's apparent, even in fielding drills, that he lacks that "first step" that you're talking about, or is it because he's a third basemen, and he's always been a third basemen, and everybody knows that thirdbasemen aren't good enough fielders to be shortstops?
Tuiasosopo hasn't fielded the position since 2006, and is generally regarded as mediocre, approaching average at third.  Lopez hasn't been at short since 2004, and has probably put on 20-30 pounds since then.  To say that Hannahan would be worse than Betancourt at short, when he's nearly as good as Beltre at third is bizarre.  Jon Shields posted a link at ProballNW after Adrian signed with Boston, that is a highlight reel of his time in Seattle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8IKDeH9SEg).  In the video, at 2:58, and then again at 5:48, you can see Adrian range to his left to snag balls that Yuniesky doesn't even move on.  Yunie set the bar pretty low.  Yes, Jack Wilson is certainly a better shortstop than Beltre could ever be, he's also better than most everyday shortstops could ever hope to be.  The ability to react lightning fast, range to the left or right, and throw off balance accurately are all skills that both Hannahan and Beltre possess, and the potential exists for either of them to be average or better shortstops.  My guess is that both players have always been third basemen by trade, and no one has ever questioned that.  In Adrian's case, the question will surely never come up, as he is quite capable of making a living at third and the added dangers of injury at shortstop could easily shorten his career if he ever did attempt a move.  In Jack Hannahan's case, proving that he can play shortstop can only lengthen his.

IcebreakerX's picture

The qualm here isn't really whether Player X can be a good shortstop or not. The issue here is the seeming inconsistencies...
1) It is clear the Mariners are looking at creating an airtight defense. This is most obvious with the signings of Figgins, Wilson, insistence on Rob Johnson and the trade for Kotchman. Clearly, they view Premium Defense as a priority.
2) YET, despite the moves that all show that this is a Defense First construction area, the second string doesn't really reflect this. Hannahan makes sense at the corners, but doesn't make much sense at MIF. (Sure, you're saving a roster slot with using him as a supersub, but we're weeks before Spring Training and we haven't even seen Hannahan as a regular SS... Anyways...)
3) SO, at this point, we've basically *assumed* that Hannahan will be an adequate shortstop. But most arrows point at emphasizing adequate. If we're going to go with adequate, why waste the ABs on a player that is pretty much an empty investment. IF you're okay with okay, why not use the time on other okays like Tui or some other prospect.
3a) The other thing is, with the composition of this team, you're probably going to look at injuries happening in this order: SS... SS... SS... C, 3B, 1B, 2B, CF, LF, RF. With this roster, SS is occupied by a walking injury magnet. Why aren't you carrying a SS that can play other positions instead of a 3B that can play other positions?
Hannahan could be good at 1B/3B, but it's the sort of an empty calorie goodness. You're carrying an all defensive team, why does your relief corps have to be the same way? 
On top of that, Hannahan doesn't hit enough to be excused from defending and he doesn't catch enough to be excused from hitting. Why waste your time on him?
But then, I wrote all that and realized it... The M's are manuvering not to have Lopez or Tui backup SS because they're probably actually manuvering to have Chone Figgins do it.
Think about it. Wilson goes down with his annual injury. Figgins slides over. Hannahan slides in at 3B. I would hate to watch a lineup like that, but it's the most logical at this point.


of the high quality defensive shortstops have already signed somewhere, for significantly better playing time.  The only one that I can think of (and this is probably a stretch as far as high quality goes) is Jerry Hairston, but I'd guess the fact that he hasn't signed somewhere yet indicates his asking price is a bit high.
The idea that Tuiasosopo could play an "adequate" short is pretty laughable to me.  He wasn't moved off the position because they thought he looked cuter at third base, he was awful at short.
I will admit, though, that the idea of shifting Figgins to short in the event of any kind of prolonged Jack Wilson absence, makes much more sense than using Jack Hannahan in the middle infield.  The only reason I can see not to do something like that, would be Figgins own laundry list of injuries in 2007-08, and a paranoid desire to avoid putting him somewhere as physically strenuous as shortstop.


Why can't Chone be the backup shortstop with Tui playing third if Wilson goes down? Doesn't that make a lot more sense than any Hannahan permutation?

okdan's picture

One thing Dr. Z made a point of talking about at the USSM/LL meetup last weekend, was how much work these guys put in off the field. Fielding drills, off-season work, these guys are taking literally thousands and thousands of ground/fly balls out of game situations. They are the best in the world at it, so when we see them in a game make an error on a grounder, or see a ball roll by them, we have to remember that even with all of that practice - they can still make an error once in a while. Any of us guys would be lucky to even realize the ball had been hit in our direction.
He told a story about Jack Wilson. The guy's apparently got a full infield in his backyard, and every single day of the offseason is out there, and won't come inside until he's taken at LEAST 500 hundred different ground balls at SS. That's every day. Reminds me of a certain Japanese outfielder I know of...


I don't doubt that Hannahan is a better 3B specifically than Bloomquist, but Bloomie plays a presentable CF and SS.  He's got like 150 games in the majors at SS.
Remember, Bloomquist is one of the majors' best mano-a-mano base stealers late in a ballgame.
Which would you rather have in your UT?  The ability to play SS and CF, run real well, or a specialized glove at 3B?


Figgins is a quality ML second baseman, right?   And he's played some short.
It's not the case that 3B = SS.  But it *is* the case that 2B = SS, assuming the arm is strong enough (which it usually isn't).
Lopez is a quality 2B and he has the arm.  He can play some short.
Tui also has pretty good lateral range, and obviously has the arm.  That's why he played so much SS in the minors, whereas Hannahan did not.  Lateral range.
Pretty rare to see a SS with a Speed Index of 50, like Hannahan's. 


It is about three steps, so quick, that it looks like you're running in 0.5 G.
Ever been on the skin of an infield next to a shortstop with explosive lateral range?  
Shortstops don't have better hands than 3B's; they have worse hands than 3B's.  You don't need good hands at all to play SS; you're a million miles away from the bat.  It's not step-and-dive.  It's footspeed in 10-yard sprints.  It is 0-to-60 in 0.5 seconds -- while having enough of an upper body to make the throw from the hole.
It's why Willie Bloomquist, who CAN play shortstop, can notify the pitcher and catcher that he's stealing second, and then do it.
Wakamatsu also knows that Hannahan is not a major league shortstop, but he's going to compensate for the negatives attached.


You've paid dearly to gain a couple of inches of defense at 1B with Kotchman / Hannahan, in LF with Chavez et al, you've made all these moves to jack up your DER, regardless of the fact that you don't have a 3-4-5 hitter within a 50-mile radius of Safeco...
Then you're going to give away four yards of defense at SS?  The one position where the pitcher needs to know that a batted ball is an out?
It could be my old-school bias here.  CF and SS are the two positions where I think you DO have to have a glove. :- )  For the pitcher's nerves.
I'm not trying to fricasee Zduriencik.  :- )  I just wonder why the blog-o-sphere, having so passionately rejected bat-first players, is now is full apologetics mode about Hannahan, SS.


You don't tell *one* guy outside the org, anything you don't want to see on the internet, much less a room full of 300.
Zduriencik is just trying to let the cyber-fans know they're valued.  He didn't give away any secret information.
That's an awesome story about Wilson.  It takes quite a while to field 500 grounders, and you work up quite a sweat.  No wonder the guy is still in soccer shape :- )

Taro's picture

Its a fair point, but Bloomquist wasn't very good at those positions. He wasn't awful, but is somewhere around -5 runs at both positions.
Hannahan rated as around a +10 run 2B in the minors using Zone Rating. Translated over to SS, that should mean he'll be a slightly above-average one. We will see though, its really an experiment.
My bet is that Hannahan would be somewhere 0-5 runs above-average at SS, which would really make him the best back-up option.

IcebreakerX's picture

Speed Index is probably not the perfect answer, but the key is that SS needs more 0-60 than top speed. The key to Wilson, and probably Gutierrez, is the fact that they reach their top speeds very quickly. Their top might be slow, but they can get into 6th gear real fast.
Hannahan is a 3B with low speed index. Though it's not perfect, at first glance, you're not going to assume he's quick.

Dr D's picture

Yeah, Wilson's an exception.
This argument is like I said, I wouldn't bet on Ackley to hit 30 homers; he only weighs about 170 lbs.  And your terse reply being, "Hank Aaron weighed 180."
If you want to avoid seeing tendencies by focusing on fliers, it's ok by me.  It's not impossible that Shannahan could play an OK shortstop; it's not impossible that an 82 mph lefty could be a #3 starter; it's not impossible that a 260-lb NCAA cleanup hitter should steal 30 bases.
Most 3B's can't play short.  Maybe Hannahan can.

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