A nice, quiet 24 hours at Mariners spring training

There’s not a whole lot going on at Seattle Mariners camp in Peoria, Arizona.

About a day ago, word came out that starting right-handed pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma has a hand issue that will keep him sidelined 4-6 weeks. That means that by the time he picks up a ball, gets in some spring work and can join the team, it’ll likely be mid-April at the soonest. Not the end of the world, but certainly not how you want your 2013 Cy Young Award finalist starting his campaign. And also not something that is helpful to a team that will need every break to contend.

Then, this morning:

Alright, I trust Ryan Divish. And I suppose I should trust Taijuan Walker, too. But the words “shoulder” and “Walker” aren’t ones I care to see used in the same sentence. There’s a good chance that the panic that ensued, despite the advice not to, comes from a Walker’s status as an elite prospect and the lesson we learned from the Danny Hultzen disaster of a year ago. Minor shoulder injuries can become major shoulder injuries quickly. While this may end up being nothing, you just don’t want this type of thing hanging over your head, whether you’re the player, the team or the fans. It’s scary for everyone.

And then a little bit later this morning:

Guti informed the team yesterday that he’s having a relapse of the stomach issues that ailed him previously.

There’s really not a lot to add here except that you just feel downright awful for him. Yeah, he had all this potential and would have been a cheap upgrade and could have had a nice story. None of that really matters, though. Franklin Gutierrez is very sick, and his health — as a human, not a ballplayer — is something that needs to be figured out. I’ll never forget the first time I heard Dave Niehaus howl the nickname Death to Flying Things. We’ve unfortunately probably heard that for the last time on a Mariners broadcast.

Maybe it’s not all doom-and-gloom however.

I’m not a fan of the club tabbing Cruz’s services (who is?), but the team having to scramble to pay for pitching without any leverage isn’t exactly something I’d have wished for, either. Now, the team did need more pitching anyway. They just really, really need it now.

If the best case scenarios play out for both Walker and Iwakuma, and the team also ends up with another decent starter or two, it could be a blessing in disguise.

We knew just how badly the Mariners needed to get a lot of bounces this season. This isn’t a good start.

Written by Alex Carson

carsonavy A nice, quiet 24 hours at Mariners spring training

MLB Author, Prospect Insider
Alex began writing about the Mariners at SoDo MoJo. He then joined the staff of Prospect Insider where he currently serves as an author, editor and website admin. Fun fact: Alex created the Rally Cap page on Wikipedia. Not fun fact: He’s had to wear them often supporting the M’s.

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21 comments on “A nice, quiet 24 hours at Mariners spring training

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  2. rjfrik says:

    Paul, the Orioles got a hell of a deal. Jimenez signed for under his true value. 12 million a year is a heck of a deal for the O’s. They played the market right, waited for his price to come down and pounced. Good move by them.

    I like that the M’s are going after Capuano. I think he is the perfect buy low guy that can be plugged in to the rotation for a few years. There is no way to pay over 10 million a year for Santana. He’s just not worth it. Much better to go after Cap.

  3. Paul Martin says:

    Yes, I think Santana is going to get paid by Toronto or NY. We likely end up with Capuano and Morales or Cruz…

  4. Tyler Carmont says:

    Are they ever? Ha ha. If Jimenez can manage to find some consistency to his game, something he’s yet to do really, then the Orioles could have a solid No. 2 guy on their hands, but if he goes back to first half 2013 Jimenez, that deal is going to look mighty awful by years three and four.

    Obviously the talk shifts to Santana now that he’s the last man standing. My gut says he gets the same 4/50 or so deal that Garza and Jimenez got. The Yankees and Blue Jays have been interested, and conceivably Kansas City may still be interested in a reunion at the right price. Sounds almost comical that Santana and his camp threw $100 million around at the beginning of the offseason, but that’s the good ol’ game of baseball for ya.

  5. Paul Martin says:

    No more Jimenez talk! He got 4 years and a ton of money from Baltimore. I don’t think he is worth what he got paid…

  6. Snave says:

    I think having Iwakuma out for most of Spring Training (and who knows, maybe into the season a bit) doesn’t bode well for the team getting off to a good start this season. I think they still need to add another good starting pitcher to the rotation anyway, just to stay in the race this season. I’m not sure it’s wise to expect a 3-5 group of something like Walker, Paxton and Baker (if he’s healthy) to be world-beaters, and then if you could be missing your 2 guy for a bit, things get a bit more hairy.

    I also prefer Santana over Jimenez if it’s a free agent SP they’re after. In my ideal world, the Mariners 1) sign Santana, 2) sign Capuano, and 3) trade for an outfielder (while not trading away Zunino, Walker or Seager, and preferably not Paxton either if they can avoid it). I much prefer the idea of signing the starting pitcher(s) and then trading for the outfielder, instead of trading for the starting pitcher and then signing the outfielder (Cruz).

  7. Shawnuel says:

    That is a good point about not forgetting about Maurer. He could, indeed show some marked improvement over what he did last season in the rotation (hard NOT to) but, personally, I would stop short of calling his stuff excellent. Good, sure…but I don’t remember him ever being mentioned as, potentially, more than a strong 4 or fringe #3 in a good rotation, which is still valuable, don’t get me wrong. Seems like his big challenge is refining a pitch that will help neutralize LH batters. Count me in on the Capuano bandwagon.

  8. Hackinator says:

    I agree on the Johan Santana deal…worth a shot

  9. Edman says:

    Both Jimenez and Santana are far from ideal. However, their agents are going to sell them as if they are golden. And, no doubt, they will be lead to believe they are. Which means, because you’re the best looking girl in your group of three, it doesn’t qualify you to be in the Miss America Pagent.

    I think there are better options, both in regards of money and and nearly equivalent talent. But, it will require making a trade. If Seattle can sign Capuano, great. But, there is a lot of competition for his services.

    Also, keep in mind, Maurer’s cup of coffee in Seattle last year might have given him goals to work on in the offseason. Some seem to be counting him out of the picture. But, he’s got excellent “stuff”. If he can work out mental-physical problems that affected his performance last year, he may be a better option than both Jimenez and Santana.

    And speaking of Santana, I would love to see Jack take a shot at Johan. He won’t demand a lot of money, and if he’s healthy (big if) presents some good upside.

  10. Hackinator says:

    Living in NE Ohio, I have watched Jiminez often . His motion resembles a guy fighting off a swarm of bees, not sure he can stay consistent. Also his stats improved when Gomes took over from Santana…
    I am in the lets see what we have before we commit camp…

  11. Jason A. Churchill says:

    If you think Jimenez and Santana carry the same risk, I’m at a loss for words. The question isn’t who the better pitcher is. The question is who the better value is, and at the same dollar figures it’s about who carries more risk, too.

    The two aren’t the same in terms of risk. The Seattle Mariners aren’t the Dodgers or Yankees or Red Sox. Assuming higher risks is rarely the better idea. You cite all these “value” statistics, but nothing that suggests Jimenez’s significantly greater risk to get hurt or cover fewer innings won’t hurt the team — because it will, and there’s no metric to cover that up.

    Ubaldo’s delivery is sickening. He went from 218ip to 222 to 188 to 177 to 183 — the dip almost all due to spotty performances where he simply had to leave early because he wasn’t getting it done.

    While Jimenez’s velocity has dropped more than 3.5 mph in 3 years, Santana’s has actually stayed steady. Jimenez is a bit more of a fly ball pitcher than is Santana — the more ground balls the better, particularly with the M’s projected AWFUL outfield defense.

    To sum up — Santana is more likely to remain consistent and give the club 200-215 innings. He’s less likely to get hurt and miss time. He has a slight advantage in regards to inducing ground balls and despite being a year older he hasn’t the trend of the loss of velocity.

    Signing free agent pitchers should never be about “he’s the better pitcher right now, so…” it should always include worse-case, best-case and most likely outcome assessments. Ignoring that and calling Jimenez the best FA left among SPs is missing the boat and trying to swim to your destination carrying an anvil.

  12. rjfrik says:

    I’m just asking Jason. Is there not risk with Santana? Of the Free Agent pitchers left on the market who is there besides Santana and Jimenez? Is there another pitcher in the mix for “the best free agent starter”. Because as I see it it’s Santana or Jimenez and I guess it’s a matter of opinion on who you like.

    And as I’ve stated from the beginning (“All I’m stating Jason is IMO Jimenez is the best FA left on the board and he’s a pitcher”) in my opinion Jimenez is a better pitcher then Santana. But it’s my opinion. And your opinion is that Santana is the better pitcher left on the free agent market. I guess it depends on what you value out of a pitcher. If you value an innings eater then Santana is your guy, if you value the numbers then Jimenez is your guy.

    That’s fair. To each his own.

  13. Jason A. Churchill says:

    So you are, again, ignoring risk. That’s insane, dude. You called him the best free agent starter, “hands down.”

    You’re wrong. If not altogether, at very least about this “hands down” business.

  14. rjfrik says:

    All I’m stating Jason is IMO Jimenez is the best FA left on the board and he’s a pitcher, which the M’s desperately need. I’m not ignoring his first half or his inconstancies, all I’m stating is that he had a really good 2nd half, really really good. Maybe he’s figured it out, maybe he hasn’t.

    I never compared Jimenez vs Santana but if I did I guess I would rather spend money on a 30 year old pitcher who has averaged 3.7 WAR over his first six full seasons of his career then a 31 year old pitcher, Santana, that hasn’t had nearly as good of a track record as Jimenez. Santana has had one great year in 2008 and one decent year, last year, which seems to be from a lot of luck because when you look at his peripherals it doesn’t look nearly as good. Santana has had 4 bad years and only two good ones, in fact those two years are the only two years he’s had a FIP under 4.00 and last year he barely got there. Jimenez has had only one bad year in his entire career that he’s been a full time starter, 2012 and has always had FIP under 4.00.

    Just to compare stats:
    Santana
    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=3200&position=P
    Jimenez
    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=3374&position=P

    And he is a great article comparing the two
    http://www.fangraphs.com/community/ervin-santana-vs-ubaldo-jimenez/

    Long story short, Santana goes deeper in games, primarily because he doesn’t strike out nearly as many hitters as Jimenez and walks less guys per game but Jimenez has better overall numbers across the board.

  15. Jason A. Churchill says:

    I love how those that are pro Jimenez ignore his first half and pretend his second half is the norm, and when comparing to Santana they magnify Ervin’s off second half and ignore his first half. I mean… really?

    Jimenez is a HUGE risk, 10 times more the risk than is Santana. Stop ignoring the facts that are right in front of your eyes, especially when you’re argument is a 16-17 start stretch.

  16. Paul Martin says:

    Jimenez has been so inconsistent throughout his career. Real highs and ugly scary lows. Maybe he has things figured out, but who knows? One half of a year does not a pitcher make… I like him and would love to have him but I wouldn’t give a fourth year. I don’t think any team gas offered, or will go 4 years. If so, why is he still unsigned? I don’t know if he prefers west coast or east coast, but pitchers LOVE to come here, and we shouldn’t have to overpay to sign a pitcher, especially when the teams rumored to be interested are not the big perennial winning franchises. Would love to have Jimenez, but not for four years.

  17. rjfrik says:

    Jiminez is the best pitcher available and best free agent available hands down. Pitched lights out the entire 2nd half of last season, almost single handedly leading that staff to the playoffs. He had fantastic numbers and was terrific with his command which was due to him tweaking his delivery to the point where he repeated perfectly. He is still relatively young and if he can continue where he left off he would be worth the price, years and lost draft pick. He is by far the best free agent on the board and would be a BIG help, I would easily go 4 years on him at 13-15 million per.

    Here is snip it from an article I posted a few threads ago where Dan Szymborski writes a fantastic article on the value of the remaining free agents:

    Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP
    ZiPS projected contract: Four years, $75 million
    First-round compensation: Four years, $52 million
    Second-round compensation: Four years, $63 million

    Jimenez is probably in the best position of the “qualifying offer five,” providing enough value that he’s worth signing to a contract of a significant length, which makes the loss of draft-pick value manageable. The Blue Jays in particular have two protected first-round picks, and given Jimenez’s upside — he was unstoppable in the second half — he has a good shot at finding a home (if not in Toronto, then with another second-tier contender).

    The Indians remain a good home for Jimenez, but they would want to factor in the price of not getting a compensation sandwich pick, a pick in the mid-30s having around $15 million in surplus value.

  18. davis09 says:

    I feel bad for gutti but I never thought he would make it out of spring. We really need a cf that can flat out play defense. Dyson in kc? Seems like he could be available and he gets on base and can really run. I think they should go after jimenez for 3 years hes still pretty young .

  19. Paul Martin says:

    We are not involved in the negotiations so we really don’t know what the demands are. We do know spring training is starting and it doesn’t appear that ANY TEAM is willing to meet the contractual demands of the remaining free agents tied to draft compensation. Just the fact Seattle seams to be willing to give up a draft pick for Cruz or maybe a pitcher puts them in position to possibly sign a guy like Jimenez, so I don’t think I’m “dreaming.” It’s not a lock to happen but it could…

    If the rumors are correct on Cruz, Jack has a number in mind to sign him, and Cruz wasn’t budging from his demands. If this is true then Jack is smart to tell him they are going to explore other options. No sense in bidding against themselves!

    I don’t want to give Jimenez 4 or more years, but if I could get him for two years and an option for a third (that could become guaranteed if incentives are reached) then why not? It is late in the free agent game, and I don’t see a lot of teams out there willing to spend money AND lose a draft pick on any of the remaining guys. If Jack plays his cards right there is no reason he can’t pick up a guy on a reasonable deal…

  20. Edman says:

    You’re dreaming, Paul. Capuano maybe, but unless Jimenez drops his asking price, and number of years, I don’t think the M’s will be interested. They have group of good, young pitchers on their way, and the last thing they want is more payroll burden, when they’re not sure what they have.

    As for Cruz, it all depends on price and number of years. There is a point where both can meet. The question is, will Cruz and his agent feel the same way? Agents aren’t paid to be realists, they payed because they can sell their clients on the impossible.

  21. Paul Martin says:

    This is not a good sign!

    Hopefully they sign Capuano and Jimenez and let some other sucker sign Cruz.

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