Tag Archive | "Ichiro Suzuki"

Finding Keepers:Seattle Mariners

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Finding Keepers:Seattle Mariners

Posted on 17 April 2012 by Gary Marchese

The Seattle Mariners can’t get much worse then they were last year.  They still have a couple of marquee names in Felix Hernandez and Ichiro Suzuki.  They have some young promising players that should help them.  I don’t think they are a contender this year but maybe they can at least keep the fan interest for most of the season.  Lets take a look at some guys on their team that I would consider keepers.

RF Ichiro Suzuki had the worst season of his career last year.  I don’t expect him to be as bad as he was last year.  Is he getting older, yes he is but he is basically a singles hitter with a little bit of pop.  I don’t think he forgot how to hit and should have around 200 hits again this season.  I wouldn’t drop him just yet, give him a chance to rebound this season.

SP Felix Hernandez plays for a bad team in a market where he doesn’t get much publicity.  He is a great pitcher though, one of the best in the game if not the best.  He is still young and will continue to put up numbers.  There would be no reason at all to drop this guy, he hasn’t even been injury prone.  The only think with him is that sometimes his wins totals are low because of the team he is on.

SP Hector Noesi is a second year pitcher who came over from the Yankees in the trade that landed the Yankees Michael Pineda.  He was a long reliever for the Yankees but is a starter now.  I think he is pretty good pitcher who will do well out in Seattle.  He is a guy that I would keep, hoping he develops into something pretty good. 

DH/C Jesus Montero is the big name that the Mariners got from the Yankees in the trade with Noesi coming to Seattle also.  Montero is a promising hitter it is his defense that is in question.  I have no doubt this guy is going to hit and hit a lot.  I think he will be around a 30 homerun guy with 100 RBI potential and I think he can hit 280-290.  I would not let go of this guy too easily.

2B Dustin Ackley is a pretty good second baseman.  He is only in his second year in the majors.  He is a guy that can hit for a decent average, can have a pretty high on base and has some pop.  I wouldn’t mind keeping him on my team if he was there.  He could also be a pretty good backup to have.  He should be able to hit 275-280 with around 10 homeruns and 50+RBI.  He could also steal a few bases for you.

Closer Brandon League became a closer with Seattle last year.  He had 37 saves last season in 42 chances.  He in his career was mainly a middle relief and setup man.  He is 17-22 in his career with a 3.65 ERA.  He is a guy that has always had good stuff but needed to harness it.  It looks like he is in a good situation now in Seattle where he can grow and be a pretty good major league closer.  I would hold onto him and see if he can repeat what he did last year.  If he can he is a keeper.

I hope you enjoy my work and that of my colleagues.  As always you can comment on the articles on the website or reach me through face book or twitter.  @gmarchesej on twitter and my name on facebook.

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Stealing One

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Stealing One

Posted on 03 April 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Michael Bourn Creating Havoc (courtesy of Sports Grid)

For many fantasy league owners, the stolen base category represents somewhat of an afterthought.  Maybe you draft 1 speedy outfielder who can steal bases and also score a few runs as a function of hitting leadoff, but you quickly forget about stolen bases after you have picked up Michael Bourn.  While drafting purely for speed probably will not serve you all that well in the long term, the approach has some merit.  Consider the MLB leaders in stolen bases from 2011.

  1. Michael Bourn (61) – .294/.349/.386/.734
  2. Coco Crisp (49) – .264/.314/.379/.693
  3. Brett Gardner (49) – .259/.345/.369/.713
  4. Ichiro Suzuki (40) – .272/.310/.335/.713
  5. Cameron Maybin (40) – .264/.323/.393/.716
  6. Matt Kemp (40) – .324/.399/.586/.986
  7. Emilio Bonifacio (40) – .296/.360/.393/.753
  8. Drew Stubbs (40) – .243/.321/364/.686
  9. Jose Reyes (39) – .337/.384/.493/.877
  10. Jacoby Ellsbury (39) – .321/.376/.552/.928

That last includes many of the highest ranked fantasy players who do not play a corner infield spot.  Owners could do worse than to grab a few of these guys.  What if you lose out on most of them and still want to contend for some valuable points in the stolen bases category?  Keep an eye on the following players who may not make the leader board but may still help you anyway.

  1. Rajai Davis – Davis won’t impress anybody with his hitting numbers, but he did pull off 34 steals in just 95 games.  For owners in large leagues, he might be worth a look for a backup outfielder position.
  2. Will Venable – Venable managed 26 steals with just 370 at-bats, and he was only caught 3 times.  Although his 2011 slash line of .246/.310/.395/.704 was just slightly below his career average, Venable can provide some help as a backup outfielder.
  3. Jason Bourgeois – JB toiled in the relative obscurity provided by the media blackout that is the Houston Astros, but he should not be omitted from consideration.  He compiled 31 steals as a part-time player, and even though he has moved on to the Royals, he still doesn’t need a lot of playing time to accumulate steals.
  4. Erick Aybar – Aybar’s ability to steal bases (30 in 2011) may be put on display even more in 2012.  If the Angels keep him in the #1 or #2 slots, he could be a true table setter for the heart of a much improved lineup.  With players like Bobby Abreu changing roles to make way for the team’s new offensive focal point, Albert Pujols, opposing pitchers may find it more difficult this season to stop the running game.
  5. Alcides Escobar – Like Aybar, Escobar could benefit from being a table setter this season as well.  If he gets a lot of his at-bats in the 9th spot, then he may have a full-time green light to unsettle the man on the bump.  With Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, and Eric Hosmer starting to all come of age, Escobar stands to gain some stolen base and subsequently more scoring opportunities.

If you plan to take the “fire and forget” approach to setting your lineup and ignoring it for weeks on end, then the 5 players just mentioned probably aren’t for you.  However, if you incessantly check for updates on injuries, pitching matchups, projected starting lineups, and other tidbits that may provide an advantage, then one or more of these guys may be just right for you.

For owners in leagues with 12 or more teams, you may have to draft one of these players, and it may pay to know the difference between .250 hitters.  If you truly believe that “speed does not slump”, then keep these names in mind.

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The Roster Report – March 10, 2012

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The Roster Report – March 10, 2012

Posted on 10 March 2012 by Bryan Grosnick

Hey there, hardball fans. In this edition of the Roster Report, we’ll cover a couple of those exciting Spring Training position battles. We’ll keep things on the West Coast, with positional battles in the Bay Area and over by Puget Sound. One battle is due to the fact that there just plain aren’t any good players available, and another is due to an unsurprising injury.

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The San Francisco Giants Middle Infield

I thought for sure that the Giants would take the opportunity over the offseason to make a move and address the team’s biggest weakness: a lack of talent in the middle of the diamond. Instead, the Giants reloaded with veteran retreads in an attempt to patch their hole, and now project to have very poor production from the middle of the infield. Ostensibly, the starters for this team are veteran 2B Freddy Sanchez and rookie SS Brandon Crawford, but one has to expect that backups Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot will see plenty of time in the middle as well. And that’s not a good thing.

We’ll start with Crawford, who certainly has his good points. He’s a solid defensive shortstop, and has done well from both a scouting and an analytical standpoint.  In about 500 innings at short in 2011, Crawford managed to be worth about three runs with the leather, according to FanGraphs. That’s not half bad. Unfortunately, the glove (and arm…and range…and decent baserunning skill) is all Crawford has going for him. His bat is a work in progress, but even when that work is finished, it may not be any good. Brandon flashes virtually no power, makes fairly weak contact, and his burgeoning on-base skill can’t make up for his offensive failings. With a 60 wRC+ last season in limited action, he projects to be sub-par with the bat, and could be a real drain on an already soft Giant lineup. You have to play terrific D to hit as bad as Crawford does and stay a starter.

At second base is the veteran Freddy Sanchez. Sanchez is easily the best middle infielder on the Giants, capable of mixing above-average defense at the pivot with a bat that’s roughly league-average. At second base, that combination will certainly play. The Giants would have to be thrilled with a repeat of his 2010 performance, in which he was worth a full 2.5 FanGraphs WAR. But alas, Sanchez has become terribly injury-prone, and he’s on the downward slope of his career. Freddy only managed 111 games in both 2009 and 2010, then a meager 60 games in 2011. A late-season shoulder surgery should be recovered enough to have him start the season off the DL, but it remains to be seen if it affects his offensive output. Since Sanchez doesn’t hit for power or draw walks, his offense is tied to his ability to put balls in play, and if that skill fades, it will be a long season at second for the Giants.

The Giants are going to party like it is 2008 (and they’re the Cubs) with the combo of  Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot in the middle infield. I can already predict how this is going to work: Theriot will get the first call at short when Crawford fails to hit, and Fontenot will get the first call at second when Sanchez needs an injury breather. The trouble is, neither player is a plus defender, and both posted similar wRC+ scores in 2011. Theriot managed an 84 wRC+, while Fontenot managed an 87 wRC+. Unfortunately, both those scores put them as below-average hitters. Neither player hits for any power, or provides substantive walk totals. Do you see a pattern forming here? They may hit better than Crawford, but not by enough to offset their defensive shortcomings.

I wouldn’t get too worked up though, if I were a Giants fan. I personally believe that the team’s long term answer at second base is already on the team’s roster! If you want to try and hazard a guess at who I’m thinking of, take a minute. I’ll wait.

That’s right. Buster Posey. I had the opportunity to watch him play while I attended FSU, and I can attest that he has the footwork and defensive chops (he played shortstop for the ‘Noles…as well as every other position on the team) to make the Biggio-transition if the need presents itself. And from a realistic standpoint, I truly believe that it will. I think we all want Posey to stay behind the dish for as long as possible, but his bat is just too talented to risk the near-constant wear and tear that inevitably leads to injury. Posey’s bat would certainly play better in a position like second or third base rather than first, which should be locked up for the foreseeable future by Brandon Belt anyways.

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The Seattle Mariners Outfield

Before Spring Training began, the Mariner outfield looked pretty much set. Since Jesus Montero projects to get many of the at-bats at DH, the Mariners looked to run out a glove-friendly outfield of Ichiro Suzuki (RF), Franklin Gutierrez (CF), and Mike Carp (LF). Alas, Gutierrez proved his reputation as an injury-prone player, and wound up with a torn pectoral muscle. With Gutierrez looking to miss about a month (if not more), the Mariners are looking for a new defensive anchor in the outfield.

Given that the Mariners aren’t poised to be top contenders this season, it seems unlikely that they’d look for an outside option. The team has several interesting, if not earth-shattering options to fill in at center until “Death to Flying Things” returns. Those options, in no particular order, are Casper Wells, Trayvon Robinson, Michael Saunders, and Chone Figgins. Robinson had a terrific stat line at Triple-A last season hitting 26 homers, but he makes precious little contact. His numbers were likely inflated by the positive run environment in the PCL, and he looks more like a Triple-A hitter or occasional bench bat. His defense probably isn’t good enough to keep him in a regular CF role anyways. Chone Figgins…is Chone Figgins. I’m not even sure why his name has come up as a potential CF option, given that he hasn’t played the position since 2006, and wasn’t particularly good there anyways when he did play in center. Figgins’s bat has completely disappeared (.218 wOBA in 2011) since coming to Seattle, and there’s virtually no way he’d be a positive upgrade over any other player with the lumber.

That leaves Casper Wells and Michael Saunders as the two most likely options in center. Both players play solid defense, and they are both young(ish) and have shown promise in the minor leagues. Each player strikes out too much (28.3% K-rate for Saunders, 26.5% for Wells), but shows flashes of power, and each could play passable center field given the opportunity. In fact, the biggest difference between the two players is their handedness: Saunders hits lefty while Wells hits righty. Given that both players are likely to make the team (as utility outfielders, if nothing else), the best bet for the Mariners might be to take the platoon advantage and alternate the two young players. By mixing and matching, they may be taking ABs away from the young hitters, but they’ll also be maximizing their advantage in each game. Given that neither Saunders or Wells is a real blue-chip prospect, the idea of playing each guy against their best opponent could be a strategy that pays dividends in the short-term. And if either player gets hot and cements himself as a starter, all the better.

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DOs And DONTs: Seattle Mariners

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DOs And DONTs: Seattle Mariners

Posted on 23 February 2012 by Daniel Aubain

Winning at fantasy baseball doesn’t requiring owning the best players on only the best teams in the league. Knowing where to look for the players who will bring in the numbers needed to compete for a championship is what makes a winner. Teams like the Seattle Mariners have several high-caliber fantasy baseball assets on their 40-man roster and are the type of team in flux where you could see other lesser-known players getting chances to play due to the fact winning real games on the field may not come easy in The Emerald City in 2012.

Below are a list of the fantasy baseball DOs and DON’Ts you need to be aware of when targeting Seattle Mariners players this drafting season:

  • DO expect to hear SP Felix Hernandez‘s name in the Cy Young Award debate again this season despite another season where big numbers in the Wins column could be hard to come by. King Felix finished fourth in the AL in Strikeouts with 222 in 2011 and should remain near the top with the elites of the game for years to come.
  • DON’T pass on OF Ichiro Suzuki this baseball season. He’s already slotted into the number three spot in the Mariners’ lineup and could see an increase in his Home Runs and RBI totals but a reduction in Stolen Bases. He’s in the final year of his contract and could be playing for one last multi-year deal.
  • DO target 2B Dustin Ackley as your primary second baseman if you miss out on the elites (Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler) and second tier guys (Dan Uggla, Chase Utley, Brandon Phillips). Ackley should easily provide double-digit homers and stolen bases while not killing your batting average (.270s) and chipping in decent Runs and RBI numbers hitting out of the two hole.
  • DON’T forget about CL Brandon League as a late-round closer option. He filled in very nicely last season (37 Saves, 2.79 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) and has very little competition in this bullpen to lose the job.
  • DO expect the Mariners to utilize three players at the catcher position this season. Jesus Montero, Miguel Olivo (RH) and John Jaso (LH) will each see significant time behind the plate if they are all still on this team come Opening Day. Montero expects to get the bulk of his starts at DH but I just can’t imagine an organization investing this heavily in developing a DH-only player.
  • DON’T go sniffing around this team’s other starting pitchers for draft bargains unless you expect big things from rookie Hector Noesi. Brought over with Montero from the New York Yankees for Michael Pineda, expect the Mariners to run him out there as their number five guy to see how he performs. Dynasty leaguers may want to draft and stash him away if your league uses a minor league system. He should be avoided in all other league types until he proves to be the real deal.
  • DO target OF Mike Carp as a fourth or fifth outfield option in deeper leagues for his .270/70/20/80/5 potential.
  • DON’T know what to expect out of 3B Chone Figgins in 2012? Join the club. He’s moving into the leadoff spot, being handed the starting third base job going into Spring Training and could continue being the fantasy bust he’s been since signing with Seattle. Or, will he return to a player who can hit .280 and steal 40+ bases in a thin third base field. I’ll be taking a chance on him if he is still sitting out there at the end of each of my drafts.
  • DO keep an eye on 3B Kyle Seager this Spring. Figgins HAS TO be on a short leash and Seager will be the benefactor if/when Figgins falters. The term “sleeper” is so overused these days but toss this name around in front of your league mates and watch for the blank stares. Sleeper!
  • DON’T go crazy drafting 1B Justin Smoak. He may hit you 20 home runs but at the price of a .230 batting average. You can do better elsewhere.

The Mariners are another one of those teams who have a few “can’t miss” players on their rosters followed by a ton of question marks. The good thing is this is the kind of team who’ll be quick to pull the trigger to find out what type of talent some of their younger players have and could uncover a few hidden gems come summertime.

Our Full Spectrum Baseball writers are working hard to finish up all 30 team “DOs and DON’Ts” articles and we’re about halfway done. Be sure to check out the entire series of articles while waiting for us to finish the rest over the next two weeks. Also use the comments section below to let me know if I over/under-valued a player on this team.

If you use Twitter, please follow me at @DJAubain to talk everything and anything baseball. You can also follow @FullSpectrumBB for article links as well as “liking” us on our Facebook page.

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Why the A’s should trade for Ichiro Suzuki

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Why the A’s should trade for Ichiro Suzuki

Posted on 22 February 2012 by Graham Womack

Last year, Ichiro Suzuki had his worst season. The Seattle Mariners right fielder and future Hall of Famer hit .272, 54 points below his lifetime average. He also had an OPS+ of 84 and -0.4 WAR and failed to win a Gold Glove or top 200 hits for the first time in his career, the ageless wonder finally starting to look like a player pushing 40. The Mariners have been through this before with Ken Griffey Jr., and if past experience holds, this only gets worse for Seattle.

There are two options for the Mariners. They can hold onto Ichiro and keep paying him $17 million a season until the franchise icon retires– in fact, there’s talk of him hitting third for Seattle this year. But there’s a better option, one I wouldn’t hesitate on if I was the Mariners general manager. If I’m Jack Zduriencik, I call the Athletics and swing a deal.

Sounds impossible and illogical for Oakland, I’m sure, a team seemingly in a holding pattern while it awaits approval to move to San Jose. The A’s have a projected $38 million budget for Opening Day, little hope of contending with the Rangers and Angels this year in the American League West, and as a kicker, no less than seven outfielders that could see playing time. Then there’s Manny Ramirez who could join the A’s lineup as a 40-year-old designated hitter in late May after he serves a 50-game suspension for his second positive test for performance enhancing drugs. There’s a definite logjam in Oakland, but nothing’s set in stone, either. Nothing in Oakland ever is, really, with Billy Beane baseball’s version of that neighbor who manages to hold a garage sale every weekend.

Certainly, the A’s would need to clear roster space and make the dollars work in a trade for Ichiro, perhaps cribbing off the deal the Pittsburgh Pirates recently pulled to get A.J. Burnett and have the Yankees pay roughly 60 percent of the $31 million he’s owed. But there’s incentive for the A’s here. In the offensive wasteland that is Oakland Coliseum, Ichiro owns a .364 lifetime batting average in 418 at-bats, compared to .326 at Safeco Field in Seattle. Even last year in the midst of epic struggles, Ichiro hit .351 in Oakland while batting just .261 at home. Playing a full season with the A’s, Ichiro could be a .300 hitter for a team that’s had just two the past six years.

Then there are the fan implications. I attended an early season game in Oakland last year on Japanese Heritage Day (which happened to come against the Mariners, coincidentally.) The amount of Asian fans in the stands there to cheer A’s designated hitter Hideki Matsui was stark. Matsui was on and off with his play in his only year in Oakland, yet another left-handed power hitter not ideally suited for the vast confines of the Coliseum, and while it doesn’t make sense to bring him back, the A’s could use another drawing card. Enter Ichiro having a resurgent, All Star season. Depending on how much of Ichiro’s contract the Mariners are willing to eat for the right assortment of prospects, the A’s might even turn a profit in this arrangement.

Oakland could get a boost in the standings as well, perhaps enough to hang as a dark horse wild card contender. Even now, the team has more depth and talent than may be available at quick glance, with Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, and Brandon McCarthy potential keys to an experienced, capable starting rotation, and Cliff Pennington and Jemille Weeks the core of perhaps the most underrated infield in baseball. Were Ichiro to start in right field, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that he, Coco Crisp, and Yoenis Cespedes might comprise one of the best outfields in the majors, at least defensively.

The question may arise why Seattle would be willing to part with Ichiro, potentially the first Hall of Famer to spend his entire career with the Mariners. Simply, it comes down to dollars and the logic, or lack thereof, of paying $17 million to a player who’s sub-replacement level at this point playing in Seattle. Everyone wins in this arrangement. The Mariners get something for a player they’d otherwise get nothing for, the A’s get a boost, and for Ichiro, there could be new life in Oakland. Left unsaid in all of this is that playing for the A’s, the man currently at 2,428 hits might have a shot at 3,000.

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