OK, Now What? - Shortstops

Mariner Central boss-man Lonnie with a sssmmmmmmokinn'! set of "Now What?" 's at each Mariner position.  I mean this dude ain't kiddin' around ... detailed assessment of '09, complete list of FA's this winter, quick-takes on each FA, interesting op-ed's on each...

I think I better retire pretty soon.

Anyway, how 'bout a link, an exec sum of Lonnie's position, and my own ten-cent kibitz... today let's kibitz Mariner Central on the shortstops for 2010.


=== Exec Sum Dept. ===

Lonnie opines that Jack Wilson is not only a question with the bat, but also with the training room, which is becoming the consensus since IceX (I think) raised this issue.

The M's don't, sez Lonnie, have anybody any minors SS's on the horizon.

None of the FA's are palatable, it sez there, because all are old and we need a long-term solution.   Bobby Crosby is seen as an interesting possibility, with Kahlil Greene as an unappetizing fallback.

Lonnie's plan A for 2010 is to give J-o-s-h Wilson a whirl.


=== Dr's Diagnosis, Jack-Hearts-Jack === 

The blog-o-sphere doesn't see Jack Wilson as part of the long-term plan ... but! you boys didn't hear Capt. Jack gushing the day he acquired Wilson.  Write off Jack-hearts-Jack at your peril.

My guess is, that on the Big White Board in the war room, Jack Wilson is Plan A by a fair distance.  They like his defense, they like his bulldog tenacity, they think he'll bounce back with the bat.

My main hope is that they can work something less than $8M with him.  I'm not holding my breath.  Am prepared for disappointment here.


=== Trade Winds, U-23 Dept.  ===

What if you look around the league and want to trade for an ML-ready shortstop?  Good idea.  First question is this:  do you want an iffy prospect that you're rolling the dice on -- let's say a Saunders or Carp, and you have no idea whether he'll succeed.  Or do you want a premier prospect that you expect to succeed, such as a Matt Tuiasosopo?

Here's a really fine article on shortstop prospects as they headed into the 2009 season.   This article will take down your third cup of coffee all by itself.

If you want to roll the dice, fine -- you want somebody with a terrible K/BB or a real questionable glove -- you can get that guy.  But does Jack Zduriencik want to risk embarrassing play at SS?  Right.


You can see that there were blue-chip prospects who were expected to win starting jobs, such as Gordon Beckham and Elvis Andrus.  The problemo is:  if you want an infield 'spect like this, you're talking about a blockbuster trade.

In a Felix trade, even a Morrow trade, you might be able to get a blue-chip, ML-ready shortstop if you could find a team with two good SS's.  G'luck with that.  Still and all, you can see how a Morrow-for-Alcides-Escobar trade starts to look logical.

Bottom line, if you want a SS you can really build around, you have to cough up a lung.  This is the difference between the other analysts and me:  they see J.J. Hardy as such a player.  If he were -- if J.J. Hardy were going to post a 110 OPS+ again with plus D -- then sure.  A Brandon Morrow would be the going rate.


=== M's Prospects Dept. ===

A year or two ago, cyber-Seattle had written off Matt Tuiasosopo, at least as far as playing infield was concerned.

Now it has written off Carlos Triunfel as a shortstop.   But I doubt that the Mariners have.   The very youn Triunfel was described by one ML scout as "a 10-year-old shifting gears as he merges onto the freeway.  He shouldn't be able to do the things he's doing with the bat."

And why, exactly, can't he play shortstop?  Round up the usual suspects...


=== FA's Dept. ===

Marco Scutaro is the one above-average ML veteran on the market.

If you want to see something kinda scary, go to this web page and check his batting runs netted, in the value section.  See anything out of alignment?

I don't say that's the gospel truth, that Scutaro has been a -7 runs hitter with a +14 flier that's about to revert.  But the fact is, he's been a 90-OPS+ guy who just posted a single 110 at age 33.  

If he gets into a bidding war up towards 3/$30, that's pretty scary. 

The good news is, his stoploss should be okay -- he's a good fielder who is now drawing tons and tons of walks.


=== Dr's Diagnosis Dept. ===

The huge lesson learned here is:  we gotta ratchet down our expectations at shortstop.  The idea is to escape with our lives. 

Get an okay SS, as close to league average as possible, without burning cash like the Joker inside a barge lighting a mountain of C-notes on fire.


In that context, a $5-6M Jack Wilson, if Wok thinks he can defend himself against AL hurlers, starts to look okay.   I'm still not paying $8M for this 50-OPS+ injury case under any circumstances.

J.J. Hardy, if Capt Jack thinks he can coax an 80 OPS+ out of him in the AL and if Hardy can be had real cheap -- let's say for a Doug Fister- or Greg Halman-plus type of package -- might be cool.  I'm still not giving you marquee talent for the guy.  Hopefully Capt Jack will use the Langerhans pitch:  "He's worth nothing to you, but oh well."

Any half-solution at all is going to be several yards forward.


Dr D


cartoon from louisgray.com


IcebreakerX's picture

With Johjima off the books, I'm willing to say 5 million for Wilson with team option or AB or G option. But nothing north of that. More than that, and you're ranging into having one middling player eat too many cookies, which are already scarce as it is.
My bet is that the market will remain crashed this winter and you'll end up with players like Orlando Cabrera, Adam Everett, Felipe Lopez and others clogging and depressing the market. For instance, Adam Everett got 1 million last year and put up similar numbers in the AL AND has a history of being twice the defender Jack Wilson was in the NL Central.
I think we have more options than are apparent. It'll be fun to see, but I just don't hope it's JJ Hardy or Jack Wilson's option.

Taro's picture

Going 1-year with Jack Wilson may be the most realistic solution here if Scutaro prices himself out of range... I wouldn't mind a $1mil flier on Khalil Greene either (high risk, high reward).
Adam Everett might be your stop-loss plan if J.Wilson is asking for too many $.
Personally wouldn't mind a Greene+Everett job share at SS either if your looking to save $. If Greene's bat comes alive he takes the job, if not hes the back-up to Everett.

IcebreakerX's picture

But my biggest worry would be that his defensive numbers went up after moving to the Skydome of FieldTurf. His bat is probably gooder than the rest of the field, but he's not an infield anchor that he may look like, IMO. And I imagine his bat will decline too. Type A isn't worth it in the end, probably.


only Q would be whether Everett and/or Greene will be looking for PT guarantees...  if not, that could be very cool...


and if IRL his defense is middle-of-the-pack, and he drops back to a 90 OPS+ or even lower, you're setting yourself up for a hosing, considering the draft picks...
Tough market on the FA shortstops.  Maybe the buyer's market will emerge again.

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