Aumont too, huh. Must be nice

So we've got the #2 overall this year, and we should be able to get the dominating LOOGY to go with Aumont and Morrow, right?  That's either Tyler Matzek, Mike Minor, or Matthew Purke -- three hard-throwing lefty starters who would just blitz lefties if you put them in one-inning scenarios.

If the decisions on Morrow and Aumont are sound, so would be that decision.  Illustrate the absurd BY the absurd.


Seriously, that's a #5 overall and a #8 overall, spent on 60 innings a year -- 60 innings that could be handled by dozens or hundreds of AAA pitchers.  Relieving is simply easier than starting:  you could go get a 4k / 4bb groundballer to do that, if you wanted to be efficient with talent deployment.  Oh, wait...

Anyway, if a 5 and an 8 to the pen, why not the 2.  I'm talking REAL fast-track to an elite bullpen.  If you had the #1 overall you could do the promotion to the ML pen maybe the same month, but with the #2 you ought to be able to do it the same year, anyway.

I'm liking the sounds of a Morrow - Aumont - Fields - Matzek (this year's HS Kershaw type) bullpen.  Four first-rounders, three of them top-10 overalls, and boom.  You've got a six-inning game.

Must be nice to have such high picks and such modest accountability on them.   Gimme a top-10 draft pick and ask me to shore up the bullpen with it?  Kind of like being given an $1,800 leaf blower and being asked to clean the back step up to the sliding door.


We don't mean to sound like we're sour.  That's not how we roll.  :- )  The good news is this:  by "REAL fast-track," hopefully Capt Jack means that Chris Jakubauskas will be able to make Washburn's NEXT start.  LOL.

Tuiasosopo's on the 25-man, and with any luck they'll make that Beltre-Washburn deal for Swisher, put Jakubauskas in the rotation where he belongs, and let Phillippe Aumont handle the setup by the time the M's hit Oakland.  I know you think I'm kidding.


Let's be fair here:  Dr. D also moaned pitifully when a Transformer Mark Lowe was put in the bullpen.  But the M's very possibly realized that his arm was not capable of the workload -- the fact is that the M's were forced into that one.  So in Lowe's case, my second-guessing from the stands was based on inferior intel.

So maybe the M's know that Aumont has a congential bone disease.


Now, again, that isn't what Capt Jack SAID.  He didn't say anything about Aumont's durability -- and besides, if that was a problem even the way they've babied that kid, what were they doing drafting him top 10?   Why do you gamble on a HS pitcher with the #8 when you're already concerned he can't start?!

What he DID say, was "Hey, who knows if he'll ever make the majors as a starter."  (Whoever drafted him 8, I hope.)  "He can help us in the pen."


Back to square one.  Spend the #2 overall on Mike Minor out of Vanderbilt, spot him against lefty hitters, and you KNOW he's going to be able to at least CONTRIBUTE.   This year.

Question:  is that satire on my part?  Or is it something that could happen?

Bah humbug,

Dr D



By the way, one thing I never did, was apologize to all the amigos who argued against Morrow's RP debut last year ON THE BASIS THAT HE WOULD NEVER LEAVE THE PEN if he once went there.
I'm not apologizing to the amigos who said he shouldn't be promoted because every pitcher needs the minor leagues. :- ) But there were some guys -- like Grizzly, right? -- who prophesied that once Morrow started helping the team in the pen, he'd never leave it.
They were right, I was wrong, on that one for sure.
Tell me that Aumont is going to relieve this year and then boom, right back to the rotation next year? Ho-kay. Yeah, we've heard that song before.
Now, if they were talking a Joba Chamberlain scenario with Aumont, fine. But they most assuredly are not.

KingCorran's picture

If Z is serious about giving up on a 20-year-old in A-ball ever being a starter... wow.
He just burned a LOT of goodwill with that move. This would be the time to clarify, Captain Jack, if indeed this is the ultimate end you have in mind for the lad. If you're just rushing him to the bigs, well.. we can debate the wisdom behind that move for hours. If you're giving up on a TOR talent (in these circumstances) in favor of a bullpen arm... no debate is needed; expect to find poop on your doorstep in the morning.


Right King ... and there have been times, in the past, when they've reacted to the brouhaha by issuing a statement to that effect.
As an M's fan, I'll be hoping VERY strongly that they quickly signal that Aumont is intended for the rotation once he irons out his game.

NyMariner05's picture

If he had just come out and said "Aumont to the pen cause we feel he can't handle a starter's workload" then I kick my dog, smash a couple plates for a minute and get over it. However the reasoning used by our "beloved" GM is just mind-boggling.. It's just make believe. It's Im gonna tell you something that makes really no sense, but Im the baseball GM so you have to believe me.
His main reasons are the following:
1)He's tall
2)He's agressive
3)He throws 97
4)It will take too long for him to learn some other pitches
5)He can help us now
This is just utterly ridiculous.
Since when does being tall, agressive, and hard throwing mean you can't start baseball games?
As for Z commenting that Aumont will have to learn some other pitches to be a starter, did this man not witness the WBC? With the sinker that Phillippe has he could probably be a dominating starter without ever throwing a secondary pitch. If he were spend the next 2-3 years in the minors working strictly on sinker command, the guy could come up and absolutely dominate ML hitters as a starter.
However, what's even more mind blowing is that Phillippe has a devastating slider/slurve that he displayed at the WBC.
He has two absolutely devastating pitches right now.. If he just spend the next couple seasons working on his command of both and getting stretched out he's a #1 starter.
Therefore, this notion that "He would have to learn a bunch of other pitches" just floors me. It makes no sense, and Z knows it makes no sense.
So lets just get to the real reason... "the fast track"... Bottomline, our new GM is just like the old one, he wants help to the big league team as soon as possible and has little interest in watching a 20 yr old polish his starting craft for the next 2-4 years in the minors. It's a selfish, Bavasi like move, made by a guy I thought had the long term big picture in mind.
This is just a devastating blow to the organization. We have lost two frontline starters in the last week, and have nothing on the horizon in that department.
This was a real bad day and my confidence is shattered in regards to our new GM

KingCorran's picture

At this point, that would be like Christmas. Maybe that's the intended effect... say somthing ambiguous that threatens to dash our hopes and dreams, then counter it with a late 'Oh silly M's fans, it's not the Bavasi years anymore!' clarification. We're in love with Jackie Z all over again, and the M's rake in the big bucks.
"and the M's rake in the big bucks..."


I don't even know where to begin. I get that Z has little respect for where these guys were drafted since he didn't make the picks but you can't just take a 20 year old with that kind of talent and give up on him that quickly. Give him every chance to succeed as a starter -which is immensely more valuable than a RP- and then move him IFF it doesn't work out. It would probably be all of an extra year to find out one way or another.
And what is with the 'he's too tall' and 'he would have to learn too many pitches' comments? Personally, I think we just got a GIANT dose of Z's ego. He probably didnt' like Morrow or Aumont as starters when he was with the Brewers so he is pulling the plug. I would rather see him flip them for something he likes then turn them into something that can be easily replaced by an indy pitcher and an 11th rounder. Maybe the Putz deal went to his head? Crap.
Being a fan of seattle sports teams is just brutal.


Why the "panick" in the blogs sphere?
A top RP makes about the same WPA as a SP.
Pitchers WPA 2008:
Cliff Lee 5.96
CC Sabathia 4.74
Tim Lincecum 4.59
Johan Santana 4.08
Ryan Dempster 3.54
Brad Lidge 5.37
Mariano Rivera 4.47
Joakim Soria 4.08
Carlos Marmol 3.77
Bobby Jenks 3.47
So if Aumont becomes a top RP he can be as valuable to the team as a SP in terms of WPA.
And if GMZ thinks Aumont has a bigger chance to contribute as RP than why not think its a better move?

Sandy - Raleigh's picture

Y'know, on the surface, I can understand the confusion and ire over this news.
But, let me take a moment and attempt to play Devil's Advocate here and step into Doc's normal shoes, (which have been chewed up by the dog in this case), and offer a possible rationale that could explain and potentially offer larger hope for the future.
1) Seattle over the past decade has been VASTLY more successful in developing bullpen arms. Whether promoted internally, or acquired and massaged, the club has had FAR more success with relievers than starters.
2) Z knows this. Z may have even found the root causes for this. Z may have judged the situation and realized that under previous management, the work being done with SPs was actually likely being long term DETRIMENTAL. Essentially, his assessment is that Seattle's "development" machinery is not just broken - it is actively making things WORSE for the talent within the system.
3) Z wants to get things turned around, but you cannot fix 14 rooms in a run-down mansion simultaneously. If you try, the project simply turns into a money pit - nothing gets done - and it costs 5 times as much and never actually gets done. So, you decide to leverage the *ONE* (and only) portion of your farm system that seems to be working optimally. You decide to do this in an absolutely HUGE way.
4) You trade away your "star" closer, and turn him into about 8 bodies you can work with. This puts some talent "types" into the soup that will more readily mesh with the intended changes in develop strategies. You obivously begin retooling the development strategies, so perhaps the next few crops of prospects might actually succeed in a big way rather than sputtering and spinning in a frustratingly mediocre fashion.
5) By overloading with talent in the one working development arm of your corporate octopus, you create agi for not only developing talent from within that you can use (quickly), you also create talent you can TRADE quickly. If Morrow has a 40-save 2009 season, how many prospects could he draw -- ESPECIALLY given his low dollar cost? And some OTHER club may have dreams of converting him to starter, which might sweeten the pot for his services.
Do I know that Z is thinking ANY of this? No.
Have *I* thought this? Yes. I brought up the reality of Seattle's developmental short-comings for more than a year, and noted that they NEEDED to be getting more value than they had been, (Soriano for HoRam was simply unforgiveable). But, F-Gut *AND* Carp for Putz could end up being an absolute steal for the Ms, (not to mention all the other bodies that came along).
Part of what brought Bedard on board was Sherrill. While Bedard has disappointed in PT, this was again a case of the former regime failing to properly leverage its assets.
But, there is one more - in the back-of-my-mind thought in regards to this. The danger of the "savior". I believe that there can be an aggregate detrimental effect to having "truly dominant" SPs. The danger is that of defensive complancency. When a team begins "expecting" its star pitchers to win games by themselves, it can get VERY easy to slack off defensively.
In Atlanta, neither Glavine nor Maddux were "dominant" flame-throwing guys. The guy with the best "stuff" for that decade was Smoltz -- who had the WORST aggregate performance as a starter. But, he set records in the bullpen, (hmmm). Kevin Millwood had better "stuff" than either Glavine or Maddux.
Clemens gets lots of mentions as the prototype "desired" pitcher. Having great stuff doesn't doom one to failure. But, what makes a truly EFFECTIVE SP is not as simple as "stuff". And I happen to believe that "stuff" can (and often does) SLOW pitching development, and in some cases, prevents it.
Guys like Kerry Wood and Mark Prior and Oliver Perez and Javier Vazquez and Chan Ho Park are *FAR* more common than guys like Clemens. Nolan Ryan had perhaps the best "stuff" in the history of the game. He was actually barely more than a .500 pitcher despite his stuff.
The winningest team in baseball history didn't "need" a guy with 9K/9 "stuff".
Randy Johnson was 29 before he managed to win 15 games in a season. CC Sabathia, the most expensive pitcher in history won 17 games as a rookie at age 20, while fanning 8.5/9. He wasn't able to duplicate those feats for 6 years. Talent ALONE doesn't cut it (for long) in MLB.


?Talent ALONE doesn’t cut it (for long) in MLB.
That is the sentence.
I would say further PHYSICAL talent ALONE doesn’t cut it (for long) in MLB.
I think the draft of M's was for body type and physical talent.
But you need dexterously?and baseball intelligence to succeed long in MLB.
I think SP need more baseball intelligence but RP can survive with just raw power.
So I can understand the change of SP who has raw power to RP.
Look at the outfielders and Cedeno, these are the players which GMZ got.
They have the dexterous to bunt for hits if needed.


Closers make nice money, sure.
But that becomes a quibble, because there is still a difference between what star SP's and star closers get in terms of overall contract value. It's not only a statistically significant difference; it's a very large difference.
Tweak the ratios on the $/WPA, so they don't look quite so ugly, and you're still left with the basic problems.
And we are NOT talking about Aumont being converted to closer. They just assigned that job to their #5 overall. SP-vs-setup is the relevant comparison.


Sigh. I know that some are clinging to Jack's qualifying statements as indictors that this may not be as permanent as Baker seems to be making it but I'm not there.
Let's look at the Aumont pedigree. High school draftee from Canada that didn't go through the southern US "pitching academy/year round baseball" culture. Logs only 50 innings in his rookie year, 2008, splitting his time between the pen and the rotation. Converted to FT relief duty in 2009 and will log another 50-60 innings.
They do this and there will be no going back. Trying to get him back into a starting routine after 2009 would be like Georgia trying Fields out in the starting rotation his senior year - it'll be too late. His endurance won't be there, his arsenal won't be there and most importantly, he will have already begun self-identifying as a relief pitcher. Once he sets that mental paradigm, it's pretty well over.
I really, really, really hope that Sandy's scenerio is correct. That Jack is the mad scientist. That he is seeing things in these players that we are not. It's more than possible. I guess we have to acknowledge that Jack scouted these players when he was drafting for the Brewers, so he probably came into the job with reams of data on Morrow, Clement, Fields and Aumont. I'm not quite willing to condemn him just yet but this Aumont thing is the first move that I just don't get.

glmuskie's picture

Very disheartening to see Z basically discount any future of Aumont as a starter.
Sandy's right that Z is most likely doing some posturing and obfuscation. Heck, he could even be saying some of this stuff for Aumont's benefit. Sometimes players need to be squashed, especially hotheaded, overly-aggresive 20 YO's.
There are plenty of examples of SP's who went back & forth between SP & relief; Sandy's example of Smoltz is a good one. Also Joba Chamberlain (and the jury's still out on that one), Santana...
Definitely I think Z is looking at the paucity of innings thrown by both Morrow & Aumont and saying to himself, too bad these guys with the nuclear arms don't have the experience and stamina (and dare I say.. mental makeup?) they will need to succeed long term as a starter. These are bullpen arms.
I'm not as upset over this as many are. There are a lot of paths to winning. You need great SP's to do it, sure, and the M's are taking a couple long-shots to be great SP's and converting them to improved odds to be great RP's. It's disappointing but it's not like I don't see it as being completely irrational.

Sandy - Raleigh's picture

Let me just add ...
"You need great starting pitching to win championships" is NOT the same thing as "you need to draft great starting pitching to win championships".
How many titles did Boston get out of Clemens?
Cubs out of Maddux?
Seattle out of Johnson?
Dodgers out of Pedro?
Philly out of Schilling?
Anyone else sense a pattern here?

glmuskie's picture

Part of Z's job is to maximize the talent he has available. In Aumont's development, there is risk and reward. Z and his staff have assessed Aumont at a very high risk of not panning out as a starter. And they feel they can mitigate that risk and significantly increase his potential to have a positive impact on the Mariners by putting him in the bullpen.
You can disagree with this assesment of Aumont, that he's too high risk to be developing as a starter. That's fine. But you have to like that they are making their assesments based not on salary or draft position.


Jack Z on KJR this morning made it very clear that we did not misunderstand him yesterday, that in fact he is talking about a macro-level re-categorization of Aumont for the long term. I suppose it's possible he's just blowing smoke, or putting Aumont back in his place, or whatever scenario helps people downplay the significance of what he's said. But just between you, me and the fence post, in this instance at least he means what he says and he is saying exactly what he means.


I am finding something a bit peculiar about all of the moves so far. There appears to be an active effort to diminish or dismiss the high profile selections by the prior administration. Clement demoted, Aumont converted to relief, Morrow allowed to convert to relief,...Maybe Fontaine and Bavasi were THAT bad at player development. A disappointing realization, but what are ya gonna do? Or maybe Z is ALREADY playing CYA for '11 when the M's are still struggling to win have their games and Z can point to the bare cupboard he inherited. Or maybe this abrupt changes are a means of trying to extract credit from the successes this prospects may achieve, "If not for an abrupt transformation in player development practices (instigated by me), the M's would have never recovered."
I do smell posturing in the name of self-aggrandizement. I hope I'm wrong.

IceX's picture

I don't think you can justify or predict the health of a starter OR reliever until you have relevant data.
In Aumont's case, as a non-pure pitching pedigree project, you have to play with fire and take the higher risk/return route. Start until you prove you can't start.

EA's picture

You can disagree with this assesment of Aumont, that he’s too high risk to be developing as a starter.
That assessment is crazy at this point. He's still 20 years old. You can always convert him to a reliever later. Unless there is some physical reason Aumont is unlikely to make it as a starter (and the M's probably wouldn't want to advertise such a thing so it is possible) you have nothing to lose by waiting to see what you have. It's not like the M's window is closing and they need to go for the brass ring this year or next.

Sandy - Raleigh's picture

New regime doesn't appear to have any problem with Tui or Rob Johnson. And Wlad is still on the roster.
The new posture of the organization seems pretty simple, (and efficient), to me --
Work you butt off and produce ... or else.
They have consistently lauded hard work - and haven't hesitated for a moment to make "unpopular" decisions for guys that are either not working hard and/or not producing.
We *ALL* understand that the Bavasi era was most readily identified with the Veteran Entitlement (tm) Act. And while it seems everyone is happy that this former organizational model is history, it is IMPOSSIBLE to rid yourself of 4 years of negative impact from that model without doing SOMETHING to alert everyone that there is a new sheriff in town.
It's also important to understand that not only must you do something, it is critical to back up that position with action at EVERY junction. When an organization has been systematically coddling its stars and pheenoms, when the new regime changes the rules, there are going to be a LOT of eyes looking for the exceptions - so they can point at the hypocrisy of the new order, (and thereby excuse themselves for any blame of laziness).
I don't know whether Aumont has said anything or acted in any way that could be construed as entitlement. But, I am saying, if he has -- then it becomes mandatory for the club to react swiftly and forcefully. That's the ONLY way to begin undoing the damage from the previous regime. And it is likely that some such moves are going to have short-term negative impacts in specific cases. You may thoroughly piss off someone supremely talented, who might well become a star someday. But, in the end, the organization will be VASTLY better off in the long run for having made that decision.
Barry Bonds was the greatest baseball player of the last 20 years -- but his demeanor -- the way his club treated him -- you have to wonder, how much of a negative impact did he have on the other 24 guys on the roster. He clearly was a unique figure talent-wise. But, did he make the guys around him better ... or worse? I suspect a little of both. For some, the coddling and worship was a shrug -- but for others, it was likely the seed of scorn. When attempting to build a TEAM, the way you handle stars can become extremely critical - not for them -- but for everyone else.
It's also important to understand that none of these guys were selected by Z, (except F-Gut). He's having to run a team assembled by someone else. It makes perfect sense that he's not going to agree with every assessment of every player. But, he's got them -- and his job is to get the most production he can out of what he's got. So, he thinks Aumont is better suited for the pen. It was Bavasi's pick, not his. And perhaps Z is impatient - not wanting to wait 5 years to see if Aumont pans out.
Heck, it was 3 weeks ago that there were lamentations about how horrid the 2009 bullpen in Seattle was going to be. Morrow's move helped shore things up a bit -- but from where I sit, it is a thin and ugly bullpen, which likely needs a lot more work. If Fields works out, and comes up later in the year, the landscape changes. But, there are ZERO guarantees about future performance in baseball.
People are talking "as if" Fields has already succeeded - AND Aumont has already become a 20-win-a-year starter. This is exactly why being a GM is such a difficult job. "Z" cannot look just at 2009. He's looking at 2010 and 2011 and 2012. He's having to wade through reports of the dozens of prospects in the minors, and take the input from his scouts and geeks and attempt to assemble a plan for YEARS in the future. And all the while he understands that out of the 3 dozen guys his staff is telling him have a "legitimate" shot at reaching the majors, the reality is that probably only 4 or 5 will get more than a cup of coffee. (And he also knows that there is probably somebody who has already been written off by his scouts that is actually one day going to do more in the majors than half the "true potentials" he's being fed.
That balance between short and long term goals means that there are going to be LOTS of decisions that are not optimal for one or the other. Life is full of trade-offs. "Z" will have to alter his plans for the future on practically a daily basis. With each new pulled hamstring - or Tommy John candidate, the landscape of tomorrow will change.

Dan's picture

Regarding the players and team that Z is building, this quote from after yesterday's game made me smile. “The chemistry on this team is unbelievable,” Gutierrez said. That's great to hear. And the fact that the team hung Ichiro's uni in the locker, even though he wasn't there. And the beer shower the team gave Wak and Z. I think they're all very good signs, and things that NEVER would have happened last year.

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