Note to Jemanji - Learn from Your Mistakes!

Or alternate title: Mariners trade Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera for Ben Broussard and Eddy Perez and Jemanji LOOOOOOOV's EEEEET!!!

I actually liked the Broussard/Cabrera swap for platoon DH idea at the time it was done...the club needed a legit DH...the club was almost competitive at the time...and I wanted us to get better in the here and now. We all know how it worked out in the long run. And this move is, philosophically, identical (though we're NOWHERE NEAR contention this year and Cabrera and Diaz are each slightly weaker prospects than their counterparts from 2006). Branyan makes no more sense to this club than Broussard and Perez made to the 2006 Mariners...this club has LESS of a chance to contend than that 2006 club did...and oh yes...jemanji LOOOOOOOV'S EEEEEEET!!

Please, for the love of Linda, Doc...LEARN!! This is a horrible deal...for the same reason that pair of 2006 trades was a horrible maneuver...I learned from my previous endorsement. Have you?



I started keeping an eye on Carerra last year when he was putting up nice numbers in AA.  But it turned out that most of the OBP came from a very high BABIP. 
I still kept following him the VWL.  Yes, it's the VWL, but the things that were interesting (high BA, excellent BB:K ratio) went away.  AAA looks more like the VWL line than the AA line.
The A+ line that was intriguing was 12 triples and 46 walks.  The triples have dried up and the walks are just OK (.339 OBP for a guy who's supposed to be a table-setter).
I don't think they saw Carerra in the long-term plan, and they do see Saunders and Ackley in it. And I think they believe either could fill in at CF if they have to.
They don't see Carp in their plans, and they know they can get Branyan for a reasonable price to fill a spot they desparately need to fill.
I don't have a problem with the deal.

glmuskie's picture

Aside from your post being rude and obnoxious, which it decidedly is...
Your premise is completely false.  Your argument is that, you should never trade 2 prospects for a bat.  Which you just can't support, because it's not true.
Maybe you think its only a bad trade because the M's are not currently in contention.  If that's the case, your argument is still flawed.  You would need to show that it's never a good idea to make such a trade, when it is very easy to show that it can indeed be a good idea to make such a trade. 
You don't have a leg to stand on.


If Branyan is only for this year then this is stupid. 
But Branyan is better than Broussard.  By like head and shoulders.  And Zeke is worse than Choo and Cab.
Might as well say "No one EVER trade for an Ace at the deadline, because it never works out!!!!1121!!!"
Except that sometimes it does work out.
Branyan was a 125 OPS+ guy last year, and he is this year.  Will he be next year?  If moderately healthy, probably.  How about the year after?  I don't care, because the hope is we won't NEED him in 2012.  A young guy will be ready.
But Carp is not that guy, and Kotchman is not that guy, and Nelson is not that guy, and Everidge is not that guy.
Nobody who is in AA or AAA is that guy (unless Peguero somehow recaptures his first month, I suppose).  Maybe you believe Mike Wilson SHOULD be that guy, and they should just give him a 1B glove and let him play.
Fine.  If Mike Wilson is NOT that guy and we still have no power next year, will Jack Z be back in 2012?
This isn't really about solving a problem for this year, although it does help the offense over the next few months and will hopefully help prevent us from losing 100 games this year. 
This is about letting all the guys know NOW that the pathetic HR output of this team, that the vast lack of power at power positions (what's the OPS of our starting 3B again?) won't continue. And it makes sure that we don't come back from FA empty-handed on power hitters like we did last year.
Bavasi made remarkable ill-planned trades when he was worried about losing his job.  Jack just traded two guys who were not gonna get a chance here and who don't seem likely to be more than bench players anytime in the next several years for a MOTO hitter for the next 1.5 seasons.  I don't think the two men are especially comparable, even if you consider this a "panic" move.  It's almost impossible to fill all a team's needs in FA.  You need young players to contribute, get a good trade or two in, and then plug a couple of holes via FA.
Jack didn't wait for FA to fill one of our 1B/DH holes.
Since when was taking care of a problem 6 months early a bad thing?  Maybe it's 6 months late, instead (and I think it is) but I'd rather know one of those slots is filled with a decent player in 2011.
Now I believe it is.
I reserve the right to change this post to full agreement with Matt if we don't have Branyan in 2011, however.


A) No, my argument is not that you should never trade two prospects for a argument is that you should never ttrade two prospects (at least one of whom carries potential to be useful at the big league level) from an already thin farm system at the high levels...for an aging, injury prone rent-a-bat WHEN YOU AREN'T shouldn't trade for a guy who is unlikely to be a part of your next pennant winner if you have to give up someone who still might be.  That's my argument.
B) If you want to consider my comment here "rude and obnoxious" simply because I am raising a parallel from jemanji's past where he totally and spectacularly whiffed on a post-trade analysis...a parallel that I believe fits the current situation...and asking him why he thinks this will work any better long term...that's you're prerogative.  I have deep respect for Doc's baseball intelligence and insight 99% of the time...but he does have some error patterns that I think need to be called attention to and this is one of them.


What if Branyan takes his bat back to FA after having another good year in 2010 expecting once again to get more than one year guaranteed?  Then what?  Has Z solved any problems  long term?  No he has not.  Has he tried to find someone to replace Branyan?  No he has not.  Mike Wilson never gets auditioned...Mike Carp never gets any real playing time to try to groove into being a real hitter and the team has ONCE AGAIN eschewed any and all hope of DEVELOPING TALENT on the job in favor of an old player with no long term future in the organization.
Develop talent...this is a rebuilding year now...we have to start producing position players that can hit...and the way to do that is NOT to trade some of them for a seven billion year old bat.


No, I'm assuming Branyan stays.  I figure it might cost us an extra 1-2 mil to get Branyan to hang out for 2011.  We'll find out. 
You're assuming he doesn't stay.  That's fine.  If he doesn't stay, it's not a good trade.
But if the talent sucks, "developing it" won't really help.  If Kotchman sucks, he just sucks.  In 200 ABs or 500, he's not getting better.
It's Jack's job to look at Carp and say, "Yes, you can be my starting 1B in 2011" or "no, you really can't."  To me it looks like he decided the answer was no.  I would have decided the exact same thing.
Mike Wilson has had THREE THOUSAND plate appearances in the minors.  Maybe that's not enough development time for you, and you feel like he should get several hundred ABs in the bigs this year since the year is already lost as far as reaching the playoffs goes.
If Mike bombs in his couple hundred ABs this year, does that mean he's a failure?  If he hits big does that mean he's a success?
No and No.  Josh Wilson has been doing great work at the plate, but I don't think anybody views him as a 95-100 OPS+ bat going forward.  He's having a good month.
Wilson's having a good 3 months in the minors.  If you want to bet Jack's job on that continuing in the bigs in 2011 and beyond, I get that. 
He doesn't feel like making that bet, at least not with Mike playing first base.  Right now he's seeing what he's got with Saunders, so there's no real place for Mike Wilson, though after the trade deadline I'd expect Wilson to get a callup to play DH for a spell.
But Branyan blocks Carp, not Wilson.  Carp's "real hitter" groove in 1700 AA and AAA at bats has been an extraordinarily steady .800ish OPS.  Great for a shortstop, bad for an immovable 1B.  We can't afford another year with no power at 1B.  We just can't.
Carp can find power in the minors and if he does, then he can make a case for the 2012 team.  Auditioning him for a job we can't afford for his current no-power bat to win makes no sense.
So what are you angry about?
There's no one who is ready who is being blocked by this move.  There was no one who was traded who was going to help this team in the next 3 years even if they become somewhat awesome.  This isn't trading Choo or As-Cab.  An OF with a decent eye and zero power is not what we need.  We have a 3B like that in Chone.  we'll have a 2B like that next year with Dustin.
We need power in 2011.  And we'll find out if this trade let's us keep Branyan for that purpose.  I believe it wouldn't have been made without that part.
You believe that auditions for career minor leaguers being skipped is the end of player development as we know it, apparently.
So I guess we'll have to disagree.

TAD's picture

Hello Matt,
You may indeed be correct and that Branyan will be a non-factor after this year and the prospects that were given up develop into good major league ball players. 
Does that make this trade a bad move. Well, no.  It's just that the M's management have a different strategy to maintain profitablity and competiveness.
The M's desire to maintain a fan base and the dollars that accompany that fan base.  Currently the M's field a product that has a difficult time scoring more than a couple runs a game.  If the M's don't upgrade their offense their performance level will remain at an uninspiring level thereby allowing the fan base to drift away and spend their entertainment dollars elsewhere.  The payroll for 2011 will be based on attendance levels of 2010.  Therefore if M's wish to spend money on any free agents this off season it would behoove them to continue to provide and entertaining product to their fans.


1. The issue was never whether Branyan wanted to be here.  Both Z and Branyan knew that he did.  The issue was whether Branyan would insist on a deal that exposed the Ms to too much health risk.  Z now knows that the health risk isn't as bad as he thought, so they're back on the same page.  Branyan will play 1b here for the next few years, because somebody has to, and Kotch and Carp failed the audition, and both Z and Branyan know this.
2. Carerra has some mild interest, but he's just not worth getting upset over.  His track record is not close to what AsCabrera and Choo had done in the minors.

Rick's picture

We need Russell Branyan in the middle of this lineup.  The Mariners are near unwatchable without him or someone like him.  The mistake is not the trade, it was letting him go in the first place.  The front office botched the job then, and now they are fixing it.  It sucks having to trade useful players, but it beats pretending this lineup works.  When I go to the Safe, I pay to see a competitive team.  I want to see a victory.  I was embarrassed by the product the last two times I went.  The M's know who they are targeting for promotion 2011 and beyond.  Nobody in this deal was included.   And nothing here keeps the M's from trying to acquire Kila Ka'aihue if they so desire to try to pry him from the Royals as well. 

glmuskie's picture

a)  Then your argument is very thin.  Most prospects could be classified as 'potential to be useful at the big league level'.  Clearly Jack Z, Pedro grifol, et al thought these two prospects were very un-likely to be useful at the big league level for the mariners.  And calling Branyan a rent-a-bat is just semantics.  He's under contract for a year, could well be retained beyond that.  And Z, and TAD, and jemanji, and others, have stated some very sound reasons to acquire him in this situation.  So you can't argue from your absolutist standpoint and imply that any other opinions are idiotic.  It's just not the case.  It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of trades, the volatility of prospects and veterans, and the differences between players involved in trades.
b)  If this was my blog, and you mocked me as you did jemanji in your post, when the mocking wasn't warranted, you'd be banned for life.


He's got a MUTUAL OPTION. After the Ms told him to go screw himself and traded for Kotchman...why would he be eager to stick around here for 2011? Seriously...why...if he hits well this season...would he want a one-year contract in 2011 any more than he wanted one in 2010?
And I'm not "mocking" Dr. D...far FAAAAR from it...he HIMSELF often will prod at someone with a comment like "we mean it in a good way : - )" next to a criticism of what he sees as an error-trend in a person's logic. You can pick at the similarities (or if you think not...the lack of similarities) between Broussard/Perez and Branyan, but at the time, Dr. D specifically argued that Perez/Broussard were likely to hit .850+ as the platoon DH...and we're all thinking Branyan is roughyl an .850 OPS bat right now. And we traded a AAA CFer who was an important part of Z's mega-trade of him or not, Carrera isn't a nobody...he's the reason we could afford to unload Gillies.


No, Franklin Gutierrez is the reason we were able to let go of Gillies. He'll be here for years to come, which meant Zeke would never start for us.
Was it nice to have a backup CFer in Carrera still in the system?  Yeah.
Is it VITAL?  Well no, because if F-Gut breaks an arm or something, Zeke wasn't gonna step to the bigs and tear it up with a bat.  That's not his style (which is another in the vein of current-Ackley and Chone Figgins if he hits his potential fully).  We'd be looking for a glove-first wizard, and we can get a no-hit CFer any number of places.  Halman plays center like a friggin' gazelle and has a cannon for an arm.  It's not his ability to run down outfield flies that's the problem with him.
Zeke had a nice 4th OFer skillset. That can certainly turn into a starter skillset at a glove-first position like CF, but losing him ins't a crime.  Would I have liked to have saved him for a different trade?  Sure.
Unfortunately, our AAA hitters aren't especially major league.  Mangini might make it as a benchie, Wilson has finally gotten somewhat interesting, and Halman still has the world's worst pitch recognition.  Zeke was it if they wanted a young OFer who was somewhere near the bigs and had potential to make a 25 man in the next 2 years.
You keep saying Branyan won't stick around, but you don't know it.  You say he must be very angry at being mistreated by us in the offseason, but I haven't seen that yet either.
Your contention is apparently that "an .850 OPS bat is not worth Zeke Carrera" since you're not suggesting (that I've seen) that Branyan is not going to be one.  Perez and Broussard were not anything close to that, so if Branyan does wind up being an .850 OPS-er, is that worth Zeke or not?
I would say for this year, no, because Zeke is still a good trade chip, but if he does it next year then yeah.  I would trade what I think Zeke will be for a year and a half of a real bat.
Branyan's production for 3 months, putting butts in the stands is worth what to ownership?
Branyan next year is worth what?
Maybe Russell won't take a one year.  He might take one year and an option, and we now have 6 months to figure out if we can get him signed for that. 
There are a number of reasons to add Branyan now that don't have to do with catching the AL West leaders in 2010.
I could see looking back at this and regretting losing Zeke, sure.  Or regretting what we got for him, when we could have gotten so much more.  Especially if Branyan walks - then this will look like bald-faced overpayment.
But there are always more minor leaguers, and you only have 25 roster spots.  They can't all play for you, and if they won't play for you, then you trade em for someone who will.
Branyan will play for us.  I guess I still can't grasp this being the most inane move in the history of moves.


My contention isn't that Broussard and Perez should be expected to hit contention is that jemanji argued that Broussard and Perez were a legit attempt at an .850 OPS DH platoon and that such a thing was well worth trading Choo and Cabrera for. I think even if Broussard and Perez had hit .850, we would still be whining about both of those deals in tandem becaus they handicapped our ability to build the roster younger and make use of some of the AAA prospects for longer than half a season (or in Broussard's case...about a full season).
I am also NOT saying I ASSUME Branyan is gone after 2010...what I'm saying is that because Z can't know whether Branyan will be back in 2011...this trade must be evaluated ONLY ON WHAT IT GUARANTEES...Branyan here...for 3 months...on a lost cause the cost of a prospect who might have been battling for a job in 2011...for no apparent reason.
If Branyan stays beyond 2010, then the move that gets him to stay will probably be a good one (i.e. another short term contract to keep him around while we wait for real prospects to show up for first base)...but this trade isn't that move...that move will have to be evaluated SEPARATELY...beacuse this move does not guarantee you Branyan in 2011. The fact that I've seen at least 5 different dedicated fans here and elsewhere say Branyan is "under contract for a year" just further annoys me, because he's NOT UNDER CONTRACT...he has an option. agree that this is a dumb trade if Branyan is here just for 2010. Well you have made my point for me. This is a dumb trade even by your standards...because simply acquiring him does not make it any easier to acquire him again for 2011...we'd have to go through the same negotiation that we'd go through in 2011 after the Indians turned down his option (which they were going to do anyway with Laporta on hand)...he's not going to accept 5 mil...we're going to have to talk numbers with him in either case. I'm not buying Doc's housing argument....sorry, but a negotiation is a negotiation and we're going to have to come up some from 5 mil to get him to sign after what happened this off-season.
So if he's here in 2011...I'll be very glad that he's here...and I'll cheer Z...for signing Branyan AS A FREE AGENT...a separate move from this trade. This trade is dumb...end of story. There is not 2011 in this trade. It's 3 months of Branyan for a team that's already buried in the cellar with no hope of contention.


I find myself in an odd spot.
I approved of not re-signing Branyan when he was asking lots for 2 years.
I was a big fan of Carp before Carp was even traded to the Ms.
Zeke Carrera was my first batting adopt-a-player selection.
I freely admit that I was wrong about Kotchman on a dozen counts, (and right about his 5 cent head).  I have grown LESS enthusiastic about Carp with each passing month.  I have also grown less enthusiastic about Zeke each month.
Basically, to say I support this trade - *I* have to admit I was wrong on three counts, (and I do).
But, the dynamic I see going on with the Branyan pickup is one of REWARDING effort.  Coming into June, it looked very much like the club was about to do a complete fold-up on the 2010 season.  The defense was dragging - the bullpen imploding - and a 100 loss season seemed like an optimistic view for the final 4 months of 2010.
The club had a meeting and started winning - including their longest win streak of the season.
CLEARLY, every guy on the Ms understands that the offense stinks.  They KNOW they are last in HRs.  They certainly know they've lost a ton of walk-off games.  But, they came out and kicked butt for a week even though the offense was just as stinky as ever.
So, Z went out and rewarded the current team with an actual HR-hitting slugger.  Does that mean they're going to win 22 in a row and make the playoffs?  Not a chance.  But, it does answer a question MANY players might've been asking -- "Is management going to support *US* for continuing to work hard - even in a lost cause?"
I can very easily see Matt's point of view.  From a purely numerical, hard science view, (depending on the weight of the variables), his argument could be very reasonable.  Obviously, the value of the particular prospects in question is debateable - as is the value of snagging another aging, injury-prone slugger. 
But, I believe, a good ORGANIZATION, can *NEVER* forget that it is dealing with people.  Matt changed his sig at MC to "Milton Bradley's Biggest Fan" - not because of his production - but because of the human element involved.  And regardless of whether Bradley turns things around - Seattle will receive a benefit throughout baseball from the way they have handled Bradley.  The concept of respect - of accepting the human aspects of the game - even while demanding the production - complicates things immensely.
I have watched the Marlins do the 100% correct by-the-numbers rebuild through fire sale TWICE.  They have a pair of WS rings to show for their savvy.  And in the process, they alienated a huge chunk of their fan base AND pretty much nuked any concept of "club-player loyalty" from existing for 20 years. 
While there are times to say -- "thanks, but it's time to move on" - (which the club should've done with Griffey after his horrid ST) -- the plus-minus of the human equation cannot be ignored.  It exists.  It is very real.  And it has consequences both in the present and future.
The Branyan move rewards the players RIGHT NOW.  It rewards the fans who are sticking with the team RIGHT NOW.  And the future cost in terms of production is debateable.  Certainly, if Zeke turns into Rod Carew the club will regret the trade.  But, there's nothing I see in Zeke to suggest his upside is beyond Podsednik. 
And while *I* was the one screaming before the season that 2010 needed to be veiwed (and used) as a rebuilding year - to give the prospect some substantial PT -- how many PAs with Carp hitting worse than Griffey can be allowed before the other 8 guys on the field view the situation as one where MANAGEMENT has given up? 
One of my mantras is that management cannot simply "say" how things should be.  They have to back up their rhetoric with action.  If the club wants the players to not simply tank the rest of the season, then management cannot tank the season in June. 
Frankly, while the club was slow to react to the offensive slump -- when 7 of 9 are slumping, there really isn't anything that can be done, (except fire the coaces).  Well, Lopez and Figgy have started hitting a little - and Johnson, too.  So, the offensive morass is at a point where fixing the weakest link (still DH and 1B) *IS* the proper move in terms of 2010.  In fact, it's the right thing for 2011, too.  Improve wherever you're worst.  It is usually the cheapest, lowest risk, and most impactful move for any club.
In the end, the human equation doesn't have nice formulas and great history and comps to judge against.  I think the club made a "human" leaning decision to bring Griffey back where the production side of things said it was a bad idea and it hurt them.  Here, I think they made a choice that might well be more human leaning than production based, (though I think the production arguments can be made to suggest that this is a lateral move in regards to the current and future production in play -- with Gutz and Ichiro locked up and Saunders already in play for LF, Zeke's future value to the Ms was likely tied to a trade anyway.  The question is, will his trade value increase or decrease beyond today?).
In the end, I think the club whiffed on the 2010 season largely due to the choice to bring Griffey back - (coupled with Sweeney).  The move that made sense in a rebuilding year made little to no sense in a contending year.  For 2011?  I see zero chance that the club can "contend" in 2011 without Branyan.  With him - I think there is a chance, depending on what other chips Z rakes in.  But the #1 surefire way to kill 2011 is to allow the players to believe that 2011 is a "phone-it-in" year. 
Outside of the true - sell multiple stars "fire sale" - the easiest way to build a perpetually losing organization is to say, "it's okay to phone it in this year."  Once that mindset arrives, it can be nearly impossible to shake.  Just ask teams like Pittsburgh, KC, Baltimore. 
Did the club need help at 1B?  Unequivicabally.
Did the club need Zeke any time soon?  Only in the event of a season-killing injury.
Because of Branyan maybe the club wins 75 instead of 70.  But, the damage done by sitting by and watching the ship sink is the danger I see -- of 2011 being another 60 win season ... and the one after that.


Branyan came to Milwaukee in 2004 when Z was Asst. GM.  They have a history.  Z knows where they left off.  It wasn't scorched earth.  It was a disagreement about the scope of the injury risk and the extent to which the Ms would assume injury risk.  Please read Z's comments.  They now have more data about the injury risk and now they are comfortable with it.  They weren't before.  He knows Branyan wants to be in Seattle.
Z knows a lot more about where they are and will be with Branyan than we do.
So, yes, this is a move about 2010 and 2011.  They want to be respectable this year, and they want to be respectable in 2011.  Is it legally binding that Branyan will be an M in 2011? No, but I think Z knows the score, and thinks it's in his favor.
They also have more data about Carerra (downward trend), Carp (no positive trend) and Saunders (positive trend).  So they pick Saunders to move forward with and cash in Carerra for a 1b and MOTO hitter, both of which they need whether they're in last place or first place.

Taro's picture

I don't think its a wise move even if Branyan does come back.
1) If he accepts the option that means its market value anyways.
2) You are probably rebuilding in '11 anyways, and Branyan is eating up audition time.
Would I rather try Michael Wilson or Tui at 1B? Heck yes. I'd even rather try Bradley there to see how it pans out.

Anonymous's picture

We now have two part time, damaged goods, 1B-DH types.  Problem with Branyan is that he is a first-half only player (check out his career numbers) and onne who can only have limited PL's, at that.
If we need a power hitting DH then give Mike wilson a call up for goodness sake.  If Branyan is your full time DH (if resigned next year), then Bradley is full time in LF and then Saunders is on the bench.  i suppose you could argue that you only get part time status from Branyan (and Bradley)...but that only highlights the poor decision to trade for him and the poorer one to sign him for next year, if we do.


You don't know that Jack has had no contact with Branyan about this, or his agent.  If you were gonna bring back a guy who was great while he was here and who might have bruised feelings, you might want to be sure that he was interested in coming back and sticking around?
If Branyan gets re-signed before the end of the season, is it time to eat crow?  I know I'll be doing that if he walks next year and we get nothing (assuming he can't crack Type B FA status).
I don't know whether it does or doesn't make it easier to keep him for 2011, but I'm proceeding from the premise that simply adding him for 2010 is not a good enough reason to trade for him, so I'm putting a thumb on the 2011 scale.  You're assuming that there is ZERO way that this helps with a 2011 Branyan in ANY WAY so you're putting the thumb on the scale for 2010 alone and saying the weight doesn't add up.
One of us is wrong.  Either this is not going to help us have a 2011 Branyan, or it is.  There's a gentleman's handshake or there isn't.  Carlos Boozer blew out to Utah once he reneged on a gentleman's agreement in the NBA, so these things aren't exactly ironclad... but I guess I would just be shocked if Jack had ZERO information on whether Branyan would be on his team in '11 or not.
And the Indians turning down his option was predicated on him still being an Indian at the end of the season.  I think Branyan was getting moved whether we were in on it or not.  So we got in on it rather than having him negotiate an extension with some other team and remove yet another power bat we would need from the market.
Maybe there are no 2011 ties.  Maybe we really do value 3 months of Branyan this year as being worth two prospects.
But I'll believe that when I see it.


I can see why you would be weighing the 2011 side given the extreme illogic of trading for 2010 Branyan alone...Z is generally a very good GM on the whole, though he does have his flaws and misfires. So I guess I could see your side when it comes to assuming there's some handshaking and winking going on re: 2011.
There's just one problem now, though...if he does come back in 2011...we haven't solved 1B just like we really wouldn't have solved 1B in 2010 if he'd stayed. Yes, he's better than our in-house options these two years, but we're probably not going to contend in 2011 either unless a series of miracles occur (starting with Lee signing an extension or being traded in the one-sided rip-off deal of the century) and Branyan is gone after that...and in the meantime, we'll have no way of auditioning a first baseman for his spot in 2012 unless he's which case, we 'd still have a 1B hole and we'd have an ossified roster spot at DH so fewer ways to improve the 2011 team's chances of even attempting to contend.
Adding Branyan either (a) kills your chances of knowing your young first base prospects are ready to contribute in 2012 or (b) prevents you from making additional moves to add offense in 2011 because Branyan is DHing, Bradley's in left and Saunders has the rest of their playing time, so all you've got is first base (where you're presumably clearing space to try out prospects or use another rent-a-bat to stopgap you to the TRabens and Poythresses.
Point is...there is no good outcome to the Branyan acquisition...other than making Mariner fans stop crying into their beer when the #4 hitter comes up and it's Jose Lopez and we have no real power threats.


++ Please, for the love of Linda, Doc...LEARN!! ++
Is (1) the directing of the attention to personalities, with no attempt to buffer or be friendly, and
(2) the insinuation that others are being closed-minded.
The point itself -- isolated from the tone -- is a fair one.
But you keep looking around, bewildered, as complaints come in about the tact. 
That we respect each other's competence is a given.  It's a people-skills issue.  Not that I don't have a few myself ... :- )


If we cancel the fractions, we're left with this in principle:
1) the #7 and #8 prospects in a given org -FOR-
2) A short-term platoon duo who figure to hit #4 for you, for one or two years.
What is the lesson learned there?  If there is one to be learned, then yes, I'm still absent one light bulb. 
I don't see why the above trade paradigm is incorrect in principle, no.
I believe that is a 100% legitimate, and wise, use of farm resources:  to cash them in and (try to) complete the jigsaw puzzle when you have a shot at the ring.
Perez and Broussard came over here and BOOM, their tandem .500 SLG shut off like a light bulb.  I'm genuinely unclear what I'm supposed to learn from that.


Carrera isn't our #7/8 org prospect, much less two of them.
I read this as giving up a lot less than Choo-plus -- I sold Choo very long --, and gaining at least as much if not considerably more.
Love Carrera or not, his UPside, isn't.  Choo's was.  Carrera isn't going to come back and bite the M's very hard, if at all.  Choo had a great shot to do so.
So, yeah.  I'm baffled by your post on several different levels.
Lots of reaction, though.  Good thread, in terms of activity.


The only paradigms I think remain relevant on a dead team (and this team is completely dead...there is ZERO chance they can come back in the west) are: culture in the clubhouse (Branyan is a whiny little man who is afraid to hit clean-up...he's not going to teach the kiddoes how to win just because he produces more and the team, as a whole, wins a few extra games), pending free agent sales pitches (Branyan on a one-year fish-line is not going to sell Cliff Lee on this org as a legit contender in 2011...he doesn't help us retain our one big free agent to be), talent development and recruiting (Branyan cost us a prospect we might have needed in 2011...even if you don't sell Carrera very long, he was close to big league ready and may have outcompeted his competition for the 4th OF job and added depth or been good trade bait for depth going forward...he may not have had an immediate future as a starter in Seattle, but that doesn't mean he had no value to the team), and establishing your short-term plan for returning to contention (Branyan doesn't help here either).
The parallel between this situation and the Broussard/Perez situation ends there...both moves did nothing to help the team.  Broussard/Perez, even if they'd have hit .850, wouldn't have made the 2006 Mariners contenders, wouldn't have been a part of the next winner, and would have cost us depth we turned out to need even though, at the time, it was thought that As-Cab was surplus and Choo was competing with Raul Ibanez for the LF gig.  It, on the surface, potentially improves the club, but has no real value anyway.  That was my point...adding Branyan now is the moral equivalent of adding Broussard/Perez then...they're equally unhelpful even if they hit their ceiling with the bats.  They don't accomplish anything relevant to winning a world series.


... when they traded for Broussard.   They'd won 5-of-7, had two months to go, were a weekend series off the lead.
You're saying that the GM had no right to try to compete in that situation?


...I'm saying that the GM has no right to try and compete in THIS situation.  That situation was much closer to contention than this one...but I am also saying that even being down by three games, that team was fairly obviously flawed enough to be an unlikely division winner even if Broussard/Perez hit exactly like Bavasi hoped.  I understand trying to make a move to compete...but for that team, the guys he gave up were (even without hindsight) too likely to be needed depth.


Adding Branyan either (a) kills your chances of knowing your young first base prospects are ready to contribute in 2012 or (b) prevents you from making additional moves to add offense in 2011 because Branyan is DHing, Bradley's in left and Saunders has the rest of their playing time, so all you've got is first base (where you're presumably clearing space to try out prospects or use another rent-a-bat to stopgap you to the TRabens and Poythresses.
Point is...there is no good outcome to the Branyan acquisition...other than making Mariner fans stop crying into their beer when the #4 hitter comes up and it's Jose Lopez and we have no real power threats.
I think it's this that I find confusing.  We don't HAVE anyone ready for a 1B audition.  Branyan won't be holding anyone up in 2010 or 2011.  If we decide we want to be players in the Fielder/A-Gone sweepstakes after the 2011 season, it would be a good idea to not clog that position (or the DH position for Fielder if we don't like his glove) and we've done neither with Branyan.
It also buys us time to not NEED to rush Raben or Poythress if they start making the progress we hope they will.  If Raben's posting a 1.000+ OPS in AA or AAA in 2011 with an improved BB:K, I'm not crying about whether he needs an audition to prove himself before we get to the 2012 season.  Players you should want to add don't need an audition, they just need adjustment time.  
Carp and his .750 OPS in AAA needs an audition because you need to see if there really is nothing to see there, move along.
Tui needs an addition because his K rate was so astronomical that his "breakthrough" in AAA might be smoke and mirrors.
You audition the players you don't believe in, not the ones you do.
And if we don't have a player we believe in after the Branyan stall?  Then we'd better go get one.  But having a season and a half of real production isn't nothing.  I still have to watch 2011.  Free agents still get to pick what team they want to go to, and "the one with the historically terrible offense in the left-hand corner of the country" might not be a place they want to sign on to.  
Felix probably thinks there's a good outcome to adding hitters to the roster, even aging ones, as long as they can help put runs on the board.  Nobody enjoys losing 1-0 games and feeling like they'll keep losing them for the foreseeable future.  Morale does mean something.  
Not relying on Ackley and his doubles swing to carry the offensive load does mean something.  Crushing the kids under the weight of expectation doesn't do them any good, and nobody needs Poythress to have to be the savior of the 2011 offense.
Branyan makes the 2010 offense better.  For those trying to go for the #1 pick in the draft, this is bad.  For those trying to break the Ms losing ways, not as bad.  He may be around to make the 2011 offense better as well.  Since we failed at that last season this would be an improvement.
"There is no good outcome"?  I guess I can't see how that's possible.  It's always possible there are bad outcomes, but discounting any potential good that comes from having added what happens to be a good offensive player who was relatively inexpensive to acquire smacks of hyperbole or short-sightedness.
You play to win the game, as a terrible coach once said.  2011 isn't flushed yet.  The whole "We probably won't compete anyway" is a farce.  The Angels won a world title when they probably shouldn't have, against Bonds and his Giants.  The idea is to get to the playoffs and then roll the dice, hope your aces come out to play.  With some more offense, there's nothing preventing that chase from lasting longer than May 31st.
I'm not flushing two years of Mariners baseball because we're "probably" not gonna be able to take the West so we should give all the poor AAAA guys a chance to show they can be average.  
Branyan is above average.  Even if he falls to average that's still two steps above where our 1B/DH situation was, and where our minor league replacements are likely to be. Adding better players for cheap = epic fail is an equation I can't get my head around today, I guess.
Must be early.

TAD's picture

Hey Matt,
I'm uncertain how you determined that the GM does not have the right to compete this season ostensibly due to their place in the standings. 
I contend that the GM is ethically obligated to at all times attempt to place the most competitive product on the field as possible.  There are many customers who have purchased tickets for future games and are expect to be entertained by viewing baseball performed at the very higest levels.  A GM should attempt to satisfy these clients by employing players that will leave these fans not only extremely satisfied but have a desire to come back again and also generate additional business through the word of mouth testimonials.
Baseball is a business and the owners need to make money and they do that by ensuring fans purchase tickets.  And ideally develop a long term relationship with the customers so they come back time and time again.


Their names are Mike Wilson and Dustin Ackley.  Who the heck cares if they hit .210/.260/.350 the rest of the year?  This year is lost anyway...we need to KNOW what we HAVE...we need to see if we can get any offense for free before we go spending five+ mil in 2011 on a guy we know won't be around to help us in 2012 when we are trying to win a WS.


The GM IS, however, ethically compelled to be, at all times, trying to maximize his franchise's potential to be competitive consistently going forward.  If you're down 27-6 in the 8th do not burn your closer and your best set-up man trying to win that ballgame.  It's pitch your back-up catcher and your utility infielder if it saves the bullpen for games that you CAN win later.  THe same is true do not try your absolute hardest to win 75 games that don't matter one iota if the 162 games in 2011 and the long term plan that leads to 324 games in 2012 and 2013 wherein the club plays competitively and pleases those clients can be better set up by doing poorly now and saving your resources.
This is a  It's a soldier that's been shot 118 times and had his body torn apart by pillaging vikings.  You do not spend your last ten dollars on a pack of gause to make the dead team look prettier in the grave.  You spend those ten dollars investing in your next soldier's battle gear to fight better the next time.

TAD's picture

Hey Matt,
I appreciate the use of a Straw Man to quickly make your point in attempting to convincing state your argument.  But somehow I don't think the M's spent their last $10 nor a baseball fan had the expectation that a competitive team should burn up a closer's arm in a game that's a blow out.  Nor is there much consesus anywhere except from you that the resources the M's spent on Branyan would help them win in 2012, 2013 or anytime in the future.  If that's how you interpretted my post, I'll attempt to articulate my point a little clearer in the future.
Again the GM must put fans in the seats in order to make money, to do this they need to have a product worth seeing.  I hope you agree to this point.  If a GM doesn't make the fans happy and the owners money he will be out of a job.  Ergo he is both personnally compelled to place a competitive product on the field but their is also an ethical component to the stakeholders of the team and that includes the fans.  Also if it were possible to do a NPV evaluation on this deal where we could compare the returns of Branyan to the potential yet very uncertain returns of Diaz and Carrera in the future - I feel quite certain it would come out in Branyan's favor.  Which would give the M's additional resources today to hopefully reinvest into the future.
Nonetheless back to the hopelessness of this season.  Although it may be hopeless to shoot for a play off spot there is nothing wrong with having a goal to be 5 games over .500 by the end of the season.  Now if we are down to the last 3-4 wks in the season and we remain completely out of the competition - the expectation of the fan/customers will have changed and playing young players/prospects is not only acceptable but also a potetial fan draw as they get to see a sneak preview of the 'new model' for next year.
For example in any business sector there is only one company who is number one in sales and hopefully profit.  However the other remaining competitors are also looking to make a profit and although they may never be able to reach the pinnacle of number one but they must be able to compete in the market place and maintain a profit or they will no longer be able to stay in business - i.e. Texas Rangers. 
LONG TERM FAN LOYALTY: I wish I had time and maybe I'll do a post later. But here is my quick take on developing a loyal fan base.  I don't know if you've ever been in sales but once you have lost a customer it's very difficult to ever win them back - since they've invested alot of emotional energy divesting themselves from you.  Secondarily the best time to get a customer hooked onto your product/service is when they are young.  If the M's can keep a competitive product on the field then they are more apt to develop a fanbase of young kids 10-15yr olds, well long term these kids will grow up as M's fans and continue to go to games when they become adults.  However if the M's do not continue to cultivate these fans well it becomes tougher as there interest and monetary resources well be directed elsewhere.

31 more than just Carrera and Diaz...the cost is also Mike Wilson's at bats where we test to see if he can hack it...Dustin Ackley's at bats in a losing season where there's no pressure, etc. Those are squandered now with Branyan here just to appease fans in a sunken season. I think fans would be much...MUCH happier with a 105 loss team this year and a 90 win team in 2012 than they would be with a 92 loss team this year (wildest best case scenario of adding Branyan) and an 85 win team in 2012 when we don't have Mike Wilson's bat for nearly free or Ackley isn't fully developed.

IcebreakerX's picture

Players like Ackley also come with contractual concerns and the desire to max their service time. Testing them and having them bat .200/.250/300 isn't good baseball. That's setting them up to fail and there's a bigger possibility that you'll retard their development, rather than helping it. All while getting closer to the Boras Line.
With regard to Wilson, it's Z's job to pick what players go where. Obviously, he doesn't see Wilson as a good player. That's his call to make.

Taro's picture

I've got agree with Matt. This is just a matter of losing focus of the big picture.
Its a relatively small move, but the wrong move for this franchise.


It's just really weird to me that these numbers are coming out of nowhere.  I can say we're gonna win 104 games in 2013 thanks to Russell, but it doesn't mean anything.  Why are we only winning 85 games in 2012 if Branyan is here in 2010 and 11?  Mike Wilson has the pitch reading ability of an earth-gazing snail.  It just isn't there. If a DH hitting .220/.280/.420 appeals to you, by all means grab him.  Last I heard we hated Balentien, which is Wilson's profile.  He's not doing anything in AAA that any number of other bats with his # of minor league ABs are doing.  It's not a guarantee of pro success.
I'm trying not to disparage Wilson (I happened to want us to give Balentien some time) but IMO he's NOT a solution, let alone a significant part of 5 extra wins in 2012.  And as much as I want Ackley to perform and get promoted, he's doing fine making tweaks in AA.  He'd be fine in AAA for the 2nd half of the year.  It's not brutally stunting his growth to not have him in the bigs right now manning 1B.  And he won't be playing 1B for us next year either. And have I mentioned that promoting Ackley now means one less year of Ackley later, so why would you WANT to bump him up in a "lost" season?
If Wilson can force his way onto the team with a continued string of success in AAA, great!  Let him force the issue.  The roster isn't ossified, even with Branyan. Mike's hitting .200/.294/.333/.627 over his last 10 games, btw, and his Tacoma line against righties is back to career norms, give or take.  Maybe he's really learning to crush lefties.  That's good.  Mike could always turn out to be someone. Or maybe he's just in his normal prime months before he wears down and sucks to close out the year, like he usually does.
We're getting into hyperbole now, when the signing of Branyan has totally imploded our playoff chances in 2012 before he even steps to the plate for us in 2010.  Let's step back, take a deep breath, and realize that maybe, just maybe, "stealing" Wilson's at-bats for a position he was not going to mann for us anyway isn't a 2012 pennant killer.
And that a 120 OPS+ bat does have SOME value above giving those ABs away to lesser players, even if those players are under contract longer.


Lots to talk about here and so little time (as usual).  There was a reason when I jokingly took on the Silentpadna (silent partner) moniker 12 or so years ago.  Since Jeff and I look at baseball and life so similarly it kinda only made sense.  At that time the extent of my online experience was chatting baseball on the old AOL STATS board with the (affectionately called) OFT'ers.
As usual, I agree very much with Jeff, but especially with Sandy and his post of the year IMO.  As much as we want baseball (and all sports for that matter) to fit within our mathematical paradigms and want for it to be as simple as it would seem, it is very much a relational and 'people' business - on every single front.
If I was running a Hardball Dynasty franchise on WhatIfSports (which I do and enjoy tremendously), this is absolutely a decision I do not make.  However, baseball doesn't run like that.  How you treat people matters.  It affects other people.  Is there a case to be made against this trade?  Sure.  Is there a case for?  Of course.  I find a game where Josh Wilson is starting at 1B to be virtually unwatchable.  I frankly don't care what the mathematical chances are of winning this year.  The quality of the product to me includes the effort to make the guys you currently have on the roster better.  The Branyan deal has a good chance to do just that.  It also goes a long way in the 'people' department in several ways.  1.  It lets the fans know that the near term still matters.  2.  It lets Branyan, and players like him, know that they matter.  3.  And perhaps most importantly, it lets those in the clubhouse, who are busting their tails to win, know that they matter too.
And lastly, when your stoploss isn't, it's time to do something.  Branyan is your stoploss for that position in 2011.  And those that know what we have waiting on the farm know that.
I'm as intrigued as anyone at what a 26-year-old Wilson might do at the MLB level.  But he probably has a 50-50 chance to be as bad or worse than Kotchman at the plate next year even if he did have the rest of this year to 'audition'.  Branyan has about a 5% chance.  After what this franchise has had to endure at the plate, I'll take the 5%.
Lots more to say, but I just don't see the downside.  The guys they gave up are replaceable.  As is Carp, Poythress, etc.
My .02 (or less).


...they're just illustrative.  I have a basic philosophical problem with acquiring a player we can't use in 2012 to win a few more games in a lost 2010 and the reason is as I've doesn't make fans show up and be happy to improve a 60 win team to 70 wins...they're only happy if the team is winning CONSISTENTLY and a legit post-season threat from year to year.


The one other thing I would add to this is that as net rats, in general we do not have access to the market studies that help determine what a serviceable and max revenue product is.  From the point of view of just about anyone that takes enough time to write on a forum or a blog, it seems a no-brainer to us what a smart baseball move is. 
I would love for every move to be made with the paradigm of the next pennant.  I don't doubt that it's the number one priority here for Z, but it's not the only one.  Not in this market.

Taro's picture

You just never know until you give the guys a shot. I'm not even particular high on any of those guys either.
Still, I was never high on Fister or Vargas either. They proved me wrong.

Taro's picture

I wonder if Branyan had a lot marketing value last year?
I personally have a strong distaste for any moves that aren't about winning the next pennant, but that might be it.


My point earlier was that we, as in the net rat community who are sabr-literate, are not the market.  The M's market does not behave the same as the A’s or the Yankees.  It may be in our interest to put a winner on the field as soon as possible and “waste” a season if necessary to do it.  That makes sense in some markets, but not necessarily in others.
People a lot smarter than me have assuredly studied how to market specifically to this one.  I don’t need to be persuaded that it is a vital part of the decision making process.  I’m also not speculating on what percentage of the process it is, only that it is a significant part.
I’m not making the case that the Branyan move is the correct one because of purely baseball reasons, although I think there is a reasonable case to be made for that too.  Basically, you’re trading 2 fringe prospects for a potential 2011 stop loss.  I’m perfectly okay with that.  Right now there is too big of a gap between the real talent in the system and the majors.  Branyan gives a you a chance to fill the talent void elsewhere if you have to, or at least to hold your own if a basher isn’t traded for or filled via FA.  A contract or trade requires two parties last I checked.  If there are no trade partners and no FA’s willing to sign, then what do you do in 2011 if you’ve got the rest of the roster ready to battle?  Do you punt 2011 in the preseason and start all over again? 

benihana's picture

Seeing as many other long time lurkers are getting off the mat to join in this discussion, I thought I might as well add in my two pennies. 
---- Jack Z's Job ----
The 2010 Mariners have been snake bit by a simultaneous collapse and underperformance by nearly one half of the offensive roster.  This was a roster that Matt predicted (justifiable so IMHO) to win north of 90 games this year. However, Ken Griffey Jr., Eric Byrnes, Casey Kotchman, Chone Figgins, Milton Bradley, Jose Lopez and others have all performed well below their career and established norms, scuttling any hopes we had of competing. Now, when looking forward to 2011, I see Jack Z's decision making coming down to the simple determination between regression and decline.  In other words, for 2011 Z needs to determine who is slumping and who is over the hill.
---- Regression vs. Decline ----
In regards to Eric Byrnes and Ken Griffey, Jr., Jack Z clearly wrote them off as over the hill and jettisoned them from the roster. The Russell Branyan move seems to speak clearly to the effect that Casey Kotchman has also been similarly written off. 
That leaves us with the determinations still to be made on Figgins, Lopez and one uber expensive and untrade-able Milton Bradley.  It is easy to look at Chone and Jose and chalk the offensive struggles up to the position change, the change of scenery, relative youth, regression, slump, or what ever reason you want to come up with.  But what do we do about Milton?
---- Milton Bradley Dep't ----
To steal doc's formatting. Why is Milton Bradley struggling so thoroughly? He has been welcomed and supported in Seattle.  He has had his blow-ups, but has sought help and has seemed to be much more at ease with himself lately.  But still his performance blows.  Why?  Is it the pressure of being the only legitimate bat in the order?  Is it lack of protection in the line-up? Is it the spot in the order? 
Personally - I look at the move to bring back the Muscle in part as an effort to gauge and determine the value of Milton Bradley going forward.
---- Playoffs ----
This team was predicted by many to challenge for the playoffs this year.  We didn't.  If Z wants a shot at making the playoffs next year - establishing a winning pattern this year is hugely important.  Why?  Well look at history.  How many teams have gone worst to first? 6? 7? Has any team lost 100 games one year and made the playoffs the next?   It's a fine and dandy theory to posit that loosing now is your best bet for the future, but emphatic results of history don't jive.
Gimmie a rotation of Felix, Bedard, Vargas, Fister, Pineda / Trade
Gimmie a line-up of Ichiro, Figgins, Bradley, Branyan, FGut, Lopez, Saunders, Moore, SS
Bolster the bullpen and the bench with some nice pick-ups - and sheesh - 2011 ain't lookin so bad to me.
- Ben.

Taro's picture

That makes some sense.
The Ms have a worse record than Cleveland over the last several years, but for whatever reason their attendance hasn't collapsed as badly.
Maybe the Ms just have a really great marketing department. 
Overfocusing on this also may be a large part of the reason why we haven't been going anywhere for a while now.

Jpax's picture

No, I think the reason we haven't been going anywhere for awhile is that for a decade or so we have literally sucked at talent identification and talent development.  For the first time in the decade, it seems, I am finally starting to see prospects actually 'get better'! 

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