Diderot pointed out,
I can't remember where I read it, but recently one of the sites talked about the unprecedented nature of FanGraphs' WAR projection for the M's this season.
The thought was that it is not uncommon for an aging star to lose much of his WAR value in a single season. It happens.
But what is uprecedented is this: between Cano, Cruz, Segura and Seager, the projection is that COLLECTIVELY those four will lose about half of their 2016 WAR (46%) this year. Not to say that's impossible--but that it's unpredictable. It's collective worst case scenario on a grand scale.
So let's say those guys combine to lose just a quarter of their 2016 WAR--still a serious situation. If you add back in the difference berween a quarter and a half, we move right up to the level of the Astros, fighting for the division, and a likely wild card team.
It doesn't take a lot of imagination to predict that old baseball players will decline. That's part of the reason that Dipoto is moving on his win-now pieces, isn't it? Not very good form to tell Dipoto "Felix and Cruz are aging; you don't have much of a window here!" and then turn around and tell him those old players mean that he should come out with his hands in the air.
Not that anybody said that, exactly :- )
Caveats and Quid Pro Quo's are these: nobody at SSI, especially me, is going to be stunned if these four players drop off a lot. Nobody's going to be stunned if James Paxton is killed by a fastball ricochet'ing off the backstop. Nobody's going to be stunned if Leonys Martin sparks a clubhouse mutiny that gets Servais fired, Don Wakamatsu / Chone Figgins style. Slop happens.
But here's Point A: half the idea of playing Stars & Scrubs is that if your stars drop off, they're still good. Spend $37 on Paul Goldschmidt and if he has a down year, still get you thirty dingers. Your three Stars disappoint, they still produce, and you still got 22 roster slots left. That's first principles.
Point B if these four players were Houston Astros, Tottenham Hotspur or even pesky rodent Angels, I'd still be drafting them all near the very top of their positions for 2017. Here's why:
Wellllll ... he was worth 5.7 WAR last year, per b-ref.com. If he's worth 2.5 or 3.0 next year then
1) That's what Dipoto said when he traded for him, "we plan on getting something somewhere in the middle"
2) The 2016 Mariners didn't have 5.7 WAR at shortstop; they had -1.2
3) Steamer is using a "heartless" MGL averaging effect based on Segura's lost 2014 and 2015, which, Segura is not your normal case here
1) They've got him for 4.0 WAR, which is nothing more than "smoothing" (you can't pencil a bunch of guys in for 5.5 WAR)
1) They've got him for 3.8 WAR (see Seager, Kyle)
1) They've got him to bat .265/.335/.500, which is probably right (and which would be just fine)
THE 30,000-FOOT VIEW
That Cruz and Cano are going to retire sometime, we knew already. The thing is, when we are getting set to draft our fantasy baseball teams this March, we proceed from "Is this guy over 30 years old?" to the corollary question "How did he hit late last year?"
||2H of 2015
||203 hits in the year; 23 doubles, 14 homers after break
||He's signed for 7 more years; he BETTER hit
||2H of 2015
||The last month he looked like Benjamin Button
||Can't dignify this row with an input
It's one thing to worry that Nelson Cruz won't hit for three more years; that makes sense. It's a different thing to worry he won't hit next month. Nelson Cruz next MONTH is not the worry here, gentlemen. Dan Vogelbach is the worry here.