thoughts on the Mariners, MLB draft, and more homelinksdraftabout me

Posting Prospects

Over the weekend, Ken Rosenthal wrote an interesting blog post about an idea from Scott Boras. The man is known primarily as an agent, but he is also a big thinker. The idea Rosenthal posted is about allowing teams to post prospects.

Boras's idea is rather simple. Every team protects whoever they want on their 40-man roster. Whoever isn't protected is then available via a blind posting process, just as Japanese teams use to sell off their best players before they jump to the US via free agency.

Presumably, the Boras plan would wipe out the Rule 5 draft, and add a significant new avenue for teams to acquire talent.

For instance, what if the Mariners wanted to make a serious run at Jayson Werth in free agency? They don't have the money to realistically do that. However, they could post Dustin Ackley, and acquire the cash needed to pursue Werth that way. Some team gets a prospect they didn't have access to through traditional means, and the Mariners get access to a major free agent they would not have had any other way.

Boras presents a novel idea. While I like the idea of making baseball work a little more like a free market, I worry about unintended consequences.

Winter Updates

There are lots of Mariners playing baseball right now. Some just wrapped up their season in Arizona, while others are playing in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and Australia. For a complete list of M's spanning the globe right now, click here. I could give a few thoughts on each player, but the list is quite long. Instead, I will pick out players from the crowd to highlight.

Still Time To Hype Dustin Ackley

Geoff Baker wrote a blog this morning, cautioning Mariners fans to temper their excitement over Dustin Ackley's Arizona Fall League MVP honors. As he points out, AFL MVP winners have historically not done much in the majors, with the notable exception of Tommy Hanson.

So, is Ackley more like Hanson, or the rest of the winners?

Time To Hype Dustin Ackley

Dustin Ackley
Dustin Ackley (photo from
Playing off my "Time To Hype Nick Franklin" post, it is time to get really serious about Dustin Ackley. I have said before that I want to see him start at second base opening day, and his Arizona Fall League numbers certainly did nothing to dissuade me:

.424 AVG, .581 OBP, .758 SLG, 1.338 OPS, and 28 runs scored - all AFL-leading totals.

Granted, the AFL is only about a month long. It takes some luck to have such gaudy numbers. However, it takes some talent too.

Exactly how much of Ackley's AFL performance was luck? It's impossible to tell. However, is it so much that he can't push Jose Lopez out of the starting lineup? How can't Ackley be the favorite to start at second base on opening day at this point?

Roster Fills Back Up

The Mariners added a whopping 10 players to their 40-man roster today, all from within the farm system. The roster now has 39 players on it. Today was the last day to protect players from the Rule 5 draft, hence the big surge today. Without further ado, the names:
Many of them are not surprising. Pineda and Lueke are prospects, but definitely had to be added simply because they are candidates for the opening day roster. I won't be shocked to see Robles come up during the year at some point too.

Felix Hernandez Awarded AL Cy Young

Felix Hernandez
...And the best moment of the 2010 season just happened! Not that there is much competition from other moments, but still, a Cy Young Award would be high on any season's list.

I think we all knew that King Felix arrived last year, but a Cy Young award really brings that point home. He is still young, but not a work in progress. King Felix is among the best pitchers in the game, period. At just 24 years old, he has earned the highest individual honor a pitcher can be given.

A Cy Young is always a big deal, but there are a couple things that I think make this particular one special. Both revolve around Felix's wins total.

The first big thing is what national writers have picked up on. Felix Hernandez won despite his 13-12 record. In fact, it wasn't even close, and the margin surprises me. A .500 pitcher on a 101-loss team was just voted the best pitcher in the league. That's pretty amazing. Joe Posnanski wrote a blog arguing that the win has been going out of style for 30 years, but I'm not sure I agree. One of my first blog posts ever blasted the 2005 AL Cy Young voting. I was (and still am) convinced that Bartolo Colon won simply because he won 20 games.

Trio Of Trades

As I continue to hold off from writing, trades keep piling up! Here are all three from the offseason thus far, one from today, one from the weekend, and one from last week:

Really, the only reason that this trade is somewhat interesting is because it involves an AL West team. With that being said, I like all three players involved in the trade, but at the end of the day, this isn't the kind of deal that changes a franchise's fortune or identity. This is about swapping hopefully useful pieces for hopefully useful pieces.

Lookout Landing did an entertaining piece on how DeJesus is such an Oakland ballplayer, and frankly, they are dead on about that. However, I'm a bit higher on the players KC got back than they are.

Double Header Returns

My favorite piece of off-season news so far is courtesy the Oakland Athletics. They are going old school for a couple games this season, and offering a traditional double-header. It will be against the Angels in July.

Double-headers used to be a big part of baseball, but they have died thanks to several factors. Probably the biggest is that teams can (and do) make bigger profits by selling tickets for every individual game on the schedule, because people flock to the ballpark in record numbers these days. However, the proliferation and convenience of air travel for teams has something to do with it too.

This is another example of something in sports that fans would love to see come back, but the business side of a sport just won't give up a loss of profit. Double headers are a part of baseball's rich tradition, and it is awesome to think that you can get two games for the price of one. I have gone to a few traditional double-headers in at Tacoma (they happen from time to time when rainouts occur), and they are awesome. I bet any fan poll would show very strong support for more of them.

Even in today's money-driven game though, I think double-headers could find a place in baseball again. They would be a really cool solution to baseball's problems with the length of the season.

Fly, Fly Away

Dave Niehaus
image from
Seriously, Dave Niehaus's heart attack hit me like bad news about a family member. A friend called me tonight, and I mentioned that - and as I thought about it more, I'm okay with it feeling like that. Dave Niehaus entered my world 162 times a year for about 3 hours for my whole childhood. That's a pretty steady force, like a close friend or family member.

Dave Niehaus definitely influenced me as a child, like my close friends and family. I write a blog about Mariners baseball. The voice that entered my world 162 times a year as a child has something to do with who I am today. And that voice is gone. There's a big hole there now, and I know it will close up some with time, but I know it won't close all the way.

As morbid as this might sound, from time to time I had wondered what it would be like when Dave Niehaus passed away. Would he die in the booth? Would he retire? Would it be fast? Would it be long?

Bill James 2011 Projections

The first 2011 projections are out, courtesy of Bill James. Player pages at FanGraphs have them available for individual players!

So, does Bill James see the 2011 M's offense rebounding at all? Let's look at the wOBA projections:

Mariners Off-Season Gameplan

I like coming up with my own hypothetical off-season gameplan for the Mariners. As I sat down to think through this off-season, and mapped out what I would do, I ran into a slight problem. What I want is pretty much exactly what Dave Cameron already laid out over at USS Mariner. He hits all the areas that I would hit, and proposes signing players that I was looking at too. So, instead of producing a post from the department of redundancy department, I've elected to link to his, along with the couple following notes:

Free Agents of Interest

Free agency begins in a few days. The Mariners don't project to have much to spend, and they aren't the most attractive destination for a free agent at this point, either. Still, there are holes, and guys on the open market that could fill those holes. Here are some guys I would be targeting, in order of my preference at different positions:

Roster Purge Begins

I like to stick with Major League Baseball's etiquette and not talk about anything but the postseason while the postseason is happening, so it's time to talk about the Mariners again!

Honestly, though, we all needed a break from the Mariners after such a disastrous season. There were things I almost wrote about, but then reminded myself how uninteresting those things would be in the midst of meaningful and interesting baseball. Now the postseason is over though, meaning every team is relevant again, even the Seattle Mariners.

Also, the Mariners have been very busy in the few days since baseball's moratorium on news has lifted. Here are some quick-hitters on all the moves:

A Fluke Or Something Bigger?

The San Francisco Giants won the World Series the other day. They beat the Rangers in five games for their first championship since moving to San Francisco. Since they moved back in 1959, that's a pretty big deal, even by championship standards.

No doubt, the Giants won a legitimate championship. They had to take out the reigning NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies, and then turned the World Series into a lop-sided affair. However, to a degree, their championship has been painted as fluky, mostly because their offense was cast as a bunch of aging misfits.

By the way, that title for the Giants offense is fair. Andres Torres was their leadoff hitter, and Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell were the "big" acquisitions that proved to be legitimately big. Even Juan Uribe was surprisingly good, and then Edgar Renteria found a fountain of youth in the World Series (though he wasn't as bad in the regular season as he was painted to be).

However, how fluky will this championship be if the Giants keep winning? It's far from out of the question that they keep winning. It's arguably probable.