DiPoto mentioned a less active winter... But that could also mean that they're not gonna sign little piece and only the big fish...
Sez Moe Dawg:
15 things to think about if you're as ready for '17 as I am.
Aoki is incredibly consistent. In 5 MLB seasons, he's never hit more than .288, never less that .283 (,288-.286-.285-.287-.283). His OBP has never been less than .349 or more than .356 (.355-.356-.349-.353-.349). And minus his Ruthian (for him) rookie season he's slugged between .360 and .388) .370-.360-.380-.388). Clockwork!
If you bring him back next year, you certainly know what you're going to get. Bad glove and all.
Sez the Mainframe:
Which raises the question ... siggggghhhhhh. the 'Frame didn't care for the concept going in, 100-105 OPS+ in a corner, even with a good glove. Then the first half ... nada
2) But objectively speaking, he batted .300/.339/.500 the second half. He is a light-on-his-feet gymnast-type a la Ichiro, who played full-blast until 37 and played well at 40 and 42. Generalities aside, you'd have to say that Aoki is a player in his physical prime, considering his second half. If you wanted him last year, it would seem you'd want him next year. C the Z role modelling aside.
3) According to Dewan, he wound up at only -3 plays plus or minus. According to the eyeball test, this might not be too far off, but the Mariners' internal metrics had them replacing him after 6 innings...
Would have to agree that you know what you're going to get:
- A player you can write into the 1 slot without embarrassment (will make the pitcher sweat, at the plate and at 1B)
- A 104 OPS+ leadoff hitter who scores 82 runs per full season (a few M's have scored less)
- A player who will set the tone for strategic "tough" at-bats
- $6M mutual option
What they're going to get is a mediocre/solid leadoff man who can jobshare with one of the young guys, such as Gamel or Heredia. Sounds like a "baseline" from which JeDi can fish for upgrades.
UND TAKE ZIS MIT YOU
If the M's bring in an "impact" bat in the corner, either corner, than any of these "layering" guys looks far, far better.
MOE SEZ, RE SMITTY
B-R says that the M's are "leaning" towards keeping Smith around for his $7M option.
One statistic may indicate his declining skill set more than any other. He hit only 15 doubles this year. Since '11, he had never hit less than 23. It was 27-31-31 the past three seasons. His 16 HRs were just one shy of his career best, but it appears that he's become a cheater in some sense. Maybe he's compensating for age by starting early and trying to launch the ball to RF? Or maybe his wheels are rusting up. Maybe his legs were dinged all year and will be rejuvinated in the spring. I do not know which of those makes the most sense.
He's also had his 2 career highs in GIDP the past two seasons. It just looks to me like he's trying to be a guy who hurts the RF seats more than he used to. Although he hasn't seen any real decline in his defensive RF/9 (never his strong point), I'm going to be a bit concerned about him seeing some decent further decline next season. I would figure he's a .250-.335-.430 guy next year and not an inch more. His .782 vR was the 2nd worst of his career. Your call: Did he have a bad year or is he in decline?
Of Aoki and Smith, Aoki is the safer bet.
DA MAINFRAME SEZ
The reductio ad absurdum being John Olerud in his last season here.
Oley had 22 homers, 102 RBI, and a .490 SLG at age 33 -- Smitty's age last year -- and then the next year he hit 9,000 consecutive fly balls to the grass in front of the right field warning track. It was just a question of the natural zing, the ooomph not being there any more. Sure, you can wind up, cheat, and go BOOM or BUST to hit the occasional HR. But that's a good way to SLG .390 rather than .490, which Olerud did the next year.
Smith's OPS+ by season: 134, 116, 108 at 33. He's only $7M, but that's $7M that somebody else is going to pay if it's my roto club. What's the upside here? What am I going to miss out on?
DiPoto made it a point to gush over him during the Astros' broadcast -- "Whether he gets a hit or not, you know for a fact you are going to get a very professional at-bat" -- but it says here that 110 OPS+ career hitters, with old players' skills, are normally done at 34, if not 32. Hope he has another good season in the sun.
SSI would plump for a Gamels/Heredia battle with Tank O'Neill in waiting. If not actually one of the Jays' mashers or similar. But if the M's are "leaning" towards Smitty we would have to assume (1) that's sayonara to Poor Man's Ichiro, and (2) that their internal velocity metrics put "PAID" to our theories that his ISO is falling.
UND TAKE ZIS MIT YOU
On that Astros' broadcast, JeDi almost made it sound like O'Neill would be in Tacoma next April so as to keep his clock from starting. ... If you didn't know better.
According to JeDi, O'Neill has virtually solved his EYE issues, and he presents the two-way athleticism for which Jedi lusts. In any case, a .500 SLG in Tacoma in April-May is going to have O'Neill banging on the door next year. And not late next year. A Smith-O'Neill handoff?
There's an OF, SS, 1b(backup with versatility), backup catcher(if not Ianetta), Bullpen arms and Starters(depth at least) . I can see a big corner OF acquisition but am on the fence that anything truly costly/long term is justifiable anywhere else. Maybe one other? SS or SP(both have potential long term answers already here)? Back end bullpen? The right RH 1b with other fielding skills? Either way, that list is considerably shorter than last year hence a less active offseason. Less moves means that more resources can potentially go to a couple individual upgrades. So it could be both less moves and bigger returns.
By subracting Smith, Benoit, Miley, Ianetta and Peralta, you're saving about $26m from last year's payroll.
So that sounds like a nice little shopping spree.
The top of my list would be another strong SP--just in case something falters or breaks (I know, when has that ever happened?)
The problem is that there's no one who comes close to meriting big money in the free agent pool. And EVERYONE wants more pitching.
So I wonder if a somewhat struggling, maybe viable #2 somewhere might be made available to us if we were to absorb say $10m-$15m in contract for a couple of years...and not inflict deep injury to the farm system. Does that cat exist?
I do like the sound of that. I would really like to see gazelles in 3 of 4 OF spots. O'Neill may not quite be that but if the other 3 are at that point even better. As long as they're all definitely plus it'll help shorten opponent rallies and games. 2 losing stretches this season I could count multiple games where Aoki or another mediocre defender extended rallies that led to losses. The defense out there especially at home had me wanting to see all our over 30 OF gone. Seeing only 1 return with the idea that it might only be until the Tank knocks the door down depends on the right addition otherwise. Still seems likely Guti and Aoki or Smith returns but we'll see. I like how all 3 of them hit and don't hate any of them in any way, just dislike the lack of defensive coverage.
I think I'm as ready for 17 as you. Just give me a couple days to read about all the offseason moves before the charity game.
Did you guys see the vid on O'Neill's AFL380 ft HR OFF A TEE? Apparently they do some sort of contest and Tank became the 1st guy ever to clear the fence off of the tee! He gave a cool bat flip when it went over, too.
The key to Aoki is that he may want to walk and look for a 2-year deal. His contract is a Mutual Option. The M's control the Smith situation with a Team Option.
You know, it's worth considering that you just spend the $12M+ that they cost this year on a COF who happens to have a glove, too. Actually that would be my preference. I'm in on Gamel. JeDi has to be in on one of the young OF's....he's not bringing back both Smith/Aoki.
But of the two, I like Aoki because I like the sure bet.
What the Mariners actually really need is a legit OBP threat who can lead off. The Mariner bopper trio drove in about 300 runs combined...their combined power numbers should have been good for 350 RBIs combined but our table setters were all pretty bad (sorry Nori, but even when you were getting on base, you ran rather poorly).
Let both Aoki and Smith Walk...their 12.5 M gets you close to Fowler's annual price tag. All problems solved (your RF becomes Gamel/Heredia/Gutierrez/Cruz). Then go trade for Zach Cosart to give Marte a reset year, and sign a skull-crushing reliever and possibly re-up with Dae-Ho Lee to platoon with the new boy. End of offseason.
RF) Gamel/Heredia/other stoploss guys he signs for nothing in case those two don't hit
SP1) Paxton (oh yes...I went there)
SP3) Walker (I went there, too)
SUR) Skull-crusher we signed
SUL) gonna need to find a guy
MR) Random spaghetti
1) You're assuming the Cubs don't pick up his $9m option? (Might make sense if they see some combination of Schwarber/Soler/Almora filling the outfield with Heyward).
2) If they don't is there any particular attraction you think Seattle would have for him?
Been saying Fowler's my #1 awhile too. If...I guess we've just been mired in the if not for awhile now.
Moe's suggestion of Dexter Fowler as top priority sounds pretty good. Maybe Josh Reddick (Just for Orc misery), or Carlos Gomez if you can't get Fowler. CarGo gives you the dual center fielders as well.