Data and Queries

Data: 6-game winning streak.

Query 1: How much does Z's drive-a-hard-bargain quotient go up with each win?  Why wouldn't he tell everyone that Lee stays and we'll make a hard run at a .500 season and see what happens (oh, unless, we're REALLY overwhelmed by something we hear, thank you very much, wink-wink)?

Query 2: Will Jack do a repeat of last year's "seller [Wash], but also a buyer [Ja. Wilson]" bit?

Query 3:  Oh, and didn't Z already fleece the Mets? would they really step up for Round 2?

Data: Erik Bedard rehab start -- 3 K in 2.2 IP, 93 mph FB

Query: Is there room for him in this rotation?

Data: Jason Vargas says watching Lee taught him how to pitch better, and -- voila! -- check it out: Vargas' age-27 line (he missed all of 2008) looks a lot like Lee's age-26 line (before Lee's BB-rate plunged below 2.0 and he became a mega-star Cy monster). Roughly 6 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, FIP around 3.7.  One difference is Lee throws 90 and Vargas maxes at 88.

Query 1: Is Vargas capable of being Lee-lite?

Query 2: Do we begin to reassess Z's track record on pitching acquisitions?

Data: 2nd-highest SLG total on the team (after Sweeney) -- Michael Saunders, .438 (4 dbl, 5 HR). Saunders in June -- 5 xbh, 5 BB, 13 K, .760 OPS, .250 BABIP.

Query: What do people think?  Is he gonna make it?




Year one with Z -- trades 'suspect' closer for 47 bodies nobody in Seattle cared for.  (I vaguely recall a reference to in ROTO - you want to always be getting the BIG name, instead of the 3 little names).
Year one result was:  Gutz proved to be 110% of the glove advertised - and 110% of the bat, too.  (though expectations of the glove obviously outstripped expectations of the bat by a wide margin).
Z also inked Branyan - who got to play full time, (in part due to the perpetually bad back of Mike Sweeney - who seemed poised to be part of the typical Branyan platoon - until Branyan showed he could hit lefties EARLY).
BEFORE the season, he added on significant arm -- Aardsma. -- BIG win.
During the season, the pitching pickups:  Olson, Vargas, French -- all three considered failures. 
2009 Conclusion:  Z can judge bats and gloves -- but his take on arms is a disaster.
But, in 2010, Vargas is turning out to be a big win -- Olson has switched bodies with Sean White - and French is still a failure.  (Aardsma still refuses to implode as mathematically projected).
Meanwhile, the bat pickups for 2010 -- Figgins, Kotchman, Bradley -- have been three flavors of train wreck. 
The only "winning" bat move that Z can take credit for in 2010 is Josh Wilson -- another case where the move was more by force than by decision.
So, what does that say about Z?
It says, like every other GM in the business - he is no more capable of predicting future performance of any player than Dion Warwick. 
The PLUS-PLUS sign is not how did he judge the talent - the big plus is that the arms he got - got BETTER.  *THAT* is much, much, much, much more important.  For a decade (or more), Seattle has been picking talent, which gets worse in Seattle.  Prospects that don't develop.  Free Agents that swoon (until gone). 
The *new* item that Seattle fans don't quite get yet is this:  Gutz got better.  Aardsma got better.  Vargas got better. 
As we watch - Saunders is getting better.  Johnson is getting better.
GETTING BETTER is humongous.  It's a new experience for Mariner fans - so no wonder they cannot digest the reality.  Of course, everyone isn't getting better.  Bradley, Figgins, Kotchman prove that, (Lopez, too).  But, 3 for 10 beats the royal crap out of the oh-for-nineteen reality of previous acquisitions and prospects.  (Aside from Ibanez, I'm thinking Boone may have been the last import to actually improve after moving to Seattle - including most of the prospects that came up).
Z is not infallible.  But, the club is starting to help players improve (at least some of them).  With Johnson posting a 75 OPS+ and Saunders a 97 ... there is reason to be optimistic that the club actually has some brains about DEVELOPMENT.  I like Pineda to AAA, (instead of directly to Seattle), in part, because it reinforces the notion of development.  Instead of the "up them until failure" talent elevator of the Bavasi era, there is definitely a greater feel that actual instruction is taking place - and taking hold.
Whether it's Liddi or Mike Wilson or Peguero or Tenbrink ... I definitely have a greater sense that "soon" the Ms will actually start producing genuine MLB hitters who can hit .280, take a walk and hit a HR ... instead of the wunderkinds of Bavasi who only possessed the ability to not strike out. 
I think the organization is in VERY good hands.  I also think fans in general have underestimated the organization-wide damage of the previous regime - and how long it will take to make meaningful and lasting change for the better.  The big question I have is whether the fans will accept that building a winning organization requires more effort (and time) than simply churning the roster does.

glmuskie's picture

Saunders has been one of the brightest spots this season IMO - even before his 4 rbi last night.
This guy is very young.  23, right?  He's great defensively, he's patient, he's got some pop.  Curently OPS+ is almost 100.
This is exactly the type of player to build around.   


... even by your standards.
It's precisely this factor that Billy B had trouble with.  He'd trade for a Jeremy Reed -- a guy we all loved -- and then the guy's stock would start dropping.
A true master of the game sees things we don't see.  And after he trades for guys -- who are maligned at the time -- those guys' stocks start rising.
Mauricio Robles another prime example.


And he seems to be a prime example of what Spec and San are talking about.
The M's quite obviously (1) saw talent there, and just as obviously (2) wrinkled their noses about the warts.  Hence the stutter-starts about whether he'd play.
They went to work on the warts, and.... it could very well be that Dr. Elliott's work on his core is going to be the key to his covering the jam pitch with authority.
Might have been what Jeff Clement needed, as well.

Taro's picture

Fister and Vargas have been the biggest suprises definetly (at least for me, since I predicted BOR doom). Both look like quality MOR starters.


... when realized that his curve was useless.
An 88-89 lefty with a sidearm change, that's a bumblebee that shouldn't be able to fly.  Vargas is amazing.
Still haven't been able to figure out what his plus tool is.  Movement?  Does he really have exquisite command?  How's he doing it?


Last I checked, the movement on his change was sensational.  Could be remembering wrong, though.
Don't doubt you, but if that's really the case with Vargas' change, that it's a legit plus-plus pitch, well.... I'm very partial to excellent straight changeups.
We saw Sully praising B. Sweeney's change to the skies.  That could be a cool situation too.
You got a parachute straight change, you are "GUTS" away from being effective.

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