|By Jason A. Churchill||By 02-08-2009|
|1. By: SABR Matt on 02-08-2009 14:59:35|
Hm. I'm not so negative about Clement's batting average potential, Jason. I'll talk more about him when I hit projection season, but suffice it to say, there's nothing in his batting skill set that scream low average to me unless you put too much stock in his bad 2008 MLB debut, which as you pointed out, did not feature a healthy Clement, nor did it feature Clement's usual swing.
Clement is not an extreme flyball hitter (if he were, that would cap his BA). He's got a normal line drive tendency. He doesn't strike out at a huge rate and his K/HR is around 3 (which is neutral for BABIP). Assuming he can shorten his swing, I see no reason Clement can't hit .280-.300/.360-.380/.500
|2. By: StandinPat on 02-08-2009 15:12:07|
Im in the camp thats thinks Clement won't be a catcher long-term. Not because of ability necessarily, but more so due to durability/injury concerns, coupled with a young man named Adam Moore. This then raises the question, if Clement knees will never let him be more than a part time catcher, and if a guy like Moore is going to push him out of the position in a year or two anyways, should the Mariners maybe make him a full-time DH now? Perpetual knee troubles will easily sap a hitter of his power, which is certainly Clement's most valuable skill, and its long been noted that if a player has to really focus on their defense, from either a pos change or just being too raw, it will often hold back their bat as well. So if Clement prob won't be the starting C in 2011 anyway, should the M's just move him straight to DH where he would stay healthier, and possibly develop into a better bat?
|3. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-08-2009 15:49:49|
Clement swings and misses far too often right now for me to believe he's going to hit for higher average than the .260s. It's not impossible that he cleans that up,but even when he's at his best and producing, he strikes out, but more so, he swings and misses.
This strongly suggest that his plate appearances have, and are going to continue to, end on the pitcher's pitch too often for him to hit. 290 or .300 in the big leagues.
You SEE no reason, Matt, because you're completely ignoring the physical aspect.
No, because his overall value to the club is immediately weakened as a full-time DH.
|4. By: dewey on 02-08-2009 15:57:05|
e wont catch because he has never been a good catcher at USC as a mariner farm hand anywhere.If you want to call him a DH i think he could hit 25 and hit 260 also.If you really want to call a spade a spade this was a very bad pick number 3 in the country.They say you dream on players you draft thats for Hi School players not polished college players from big schools.Actually Fontaines track record here was mediocre for me at best!
|5. By: StandinPat on 02-08-2009 17:49:51|
I understand that his value would take a hit with the potential move to full-time DH, but if it becomes more and more evident that the move will eventually happen, I wonder how much his bat would benefit from the move sooner rather than later. Clement seems to have three things working against his chances of being a catcher long-term, his physical ability, injuries/durability, and depth at the position.
I realize his bat is awesome for a catcher, and just ok as a DH, but I also think as a full time DH, there is prob about 10 more HR's a year in his bat. Between allowing him more time to just focus on hitting, and keeping his legs fresh, I see basically what we got out of Ibanez, maybe not this year though. While thats not spectacular, it would be solid for a DH, especially for one costing the league min.
So Jason, if you think they def should not move him off C, what do you think his future roll will be? Do you see them trying to drive up his value and maybe moving him or Moore in the next two years for help elsewhere? Or do you see him catching for the next two years, then sliding over to DH to make room for Moore?
|6. By: Slurve on 02-08-2009 18:15:44|
Clement will catch until he can't it's been said many times...
Clement will have a long ST to show it also and while he'll never be above average we can expect him to be at around average at defense and if he can show 20-30 HR power he'll edge out Moore. However if his knees give out he is expendable. I like Clement he's a big left power bat at C and while Moore looks like he'll be a solid contributor at the ML level I hope Clement can catch and will continue to and show the power we saw when we drafted him.
The future of 3B worries me Tui is the most likely candidate to replace Beltre. Then I was on the Mangini bandwagon and while he hasn't been quite impressive I still think he's got potential to take away the job from Tui. A guy like Mangini has lefty power written all over him but he hasn't quite shown it and he was considered one of the best pure hitters in the draft at one point I believe and he's able to field 3b averagely.
|7. By: 01v-dubs on 02-08-2009 19:34:24|
The biggest question about Clement is not his ability to catch, he should be slightly below average, which considering his bat makes him an above average player at the position.
Like Jason said the biggest obsticle for Clement is the health of his knee's. I think the biggest thing is Clement being honest with himself and the team, whenever he feels any disconfort in his knees he should not catch. Givin the current roster situation I think Clement and Joh will share the catching duties 60-40, which should keep Clements knees healthy. When Moore is ready maybe it shifts to Moore 60 and Clement 40.
|8. By: StandinPat on 02-08-2009 19:34:59|
I realize that the M's have said "Clement will catch until he can't" many times, but thats irrelevant to the point Im trying to make. What if the point where he "can't" due to his performance, injuries/durability or the presence of a better overall catcher, comes within the next two years. In THAT instance, would the M's have been better off switching him mainly to DH this year, or are they thinking in terms or keeping only one of Clement/Moore.
As far as 3b goes, don't forget about Lopez. He profiles best defensively there, and if his power continues to develop he'd have about an average bat for the corner. As of now, you'd still have the likes of Cedeno and Betancourt to fill out SS and 2B, with maybe Hulett as a possibility at 2B as well. I think the decision will also be greatly affected by where they think Truinfel will wind up long-term. Whatever hole they have at the end of the season, 3B or 2B(if they slide Lopez over) may only need a stop-gap of about a year.
|9. By: SABR Matt on 02-08-2009 20:27:18|
Define "the physical aspect," Jason.
I know this isn't a scout's position to take, but it's been shown that BA is heavily controlled by four factors: K%, HR rate, trajectories (non-HR FB a negative influence, LD a positive influence, GB neutral unless you're very slow), and speed.
It's true that if a batter is behind in the count too much, it will negatively impact his results in that being behind in the count a lot leads to more pop-ups, more Ks and more weakly hit grounders, but these are all things we can look for to see if Clement was having those kinds of results in the minors. The Clement that has a shorter swing doesn't strike out at a huge rate, isn't an extreme flyball/pop-up hitter, doesn't really use speed (a negative factor), and is a fairly prolific LD/HR hitter.
The Clement we saw in 2008 in Seattle - you're absolutely right - did indeed swing and miss way too much. His SW% was about the same as Wlad Balentien's and that includes a high O-SW%, low O-CT% and merely average Z-CT% (Wlad was way below average with Z-CT%...an important reason why I like Clement and not Wlad). He'll need to swing a little less, shorten the swing when he does, and make better contact, no doubt.
His minor league line looks like a line that projects toward his being able to do that if he can stay healthy and get his swing shortened.
|10. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-08-2009 20:46:15|
This is very simple and you answered it yourself, Matt.
Shortening a swing, making a physical adjustment to the mechanics of a swing or physical approach to the plate appearance...
If his swing remains as long as it was, including the load, he may have trouble hitting .240, let alone .260 or better. It's the equivalent of aging Griffey 10 years from 28 to 38. All of a sudden he can't hot the hard stuff, has to cheat, and becomes vulnerable to everything else is multiple locations and counts.
|11. By: SABR Matt on 02-08-2009 20:57:51|
I just wanted to be clear about what you meant by the buzzword "ignoring the physical aspect"...so that I could clarify that I was NOT ignoring the physical aspect...in my original post I pointed out that Clement was not healthy most of 2008 and as a result he lost his swing and was loading too much trying to impress despite limited ability due to losing his power because the knee was screwed up.
You'll find that a lot of what a sabermetrician does involves considering the possible physical causes of numerical aberrations like the sudden drop in performance when he left AAA. I guess my original point was that I expected the swing to tighten up a lot when he was feeling better. And if he doesn't feel better...the question of what he can hit becomes moot because he won't be playing much.
|12. By: SABR Matt on 02-08-2009 21:35:13|
Or to put this into direct physical argument form...
Clement's knee wasn't 100%.
Clement was nonetheless expected to help save a terrible line-up and provide some much needed power.
Clement wanted to make a good impression.
Clement can't hit for power because his knee is messed up and it's screwing with his swing timing and his ability to drive off the back leg.
Clement is also pressing to show his skills and win games.
Clement is therefore forced to lengthen his swing and load up more if he wants to hit home runs as expected.
Result is lots of swinging and missing at breaking balls (because he has to cheat to hit fastballs) and then swinging and missing at fastballs (because the long swing can't reach the fastball in time).
I'd also argue that he's had a history of doing poorly in his first stint at every level. He was slow to catch fire in AA, and in AAA...his first big league spring training was a disaster. He is the kind of guy that learns pitchers and adjusts slowly and when he's comfortable...then it suddenly clicks.
Point being...between the physical argument, the mental argument the statistical patterns, and the sabermetric argument, there are four different reasons to expect much better results from Clement fairly soon.
|13. By: SABR Matt on 02-08-2009 21:37:25|
Or alternatively...I could point out that Clement's good swing bears a striking resemblence to Jim Thome's swing...and althoug Thome struck out a lot, he also has a career .279 BA.
|14. By: Slurve on 02-08-2009 21:55:21|
It was cool when I saw Detecto do the Thome-Clement Swing morph...
|15. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-08-2009 21:58:05|
The Thome-Clement morph was path only. It completely ignores bat speed, consistency with the path, and all other aspects of hitting, rendering it completely useless in the analytical stages.
What a swing LOOKS like means very little, if you aren't looking for the right things.
If you gave Clement, Thome's prime bat speed, which is a full notch+ above Clement's, the length of his swing and load would mean a lot less, and his upside would be much higher.
But we're dreaming now.
|16. By: SABR Matt on 02-08-2009 22:01:14|
To be clear, I was not arguing that Clement = Thome. The point was that high K hitters can and frequently do hit for a high average if they have enough power and take enough walks. Just gave that as a reminder of swing-type. Jason may well turn out to be right to be down on Clement's BA ability, but we won't know until we see his good swing deployed in the major leagues. Point is...we didn't see it last year.
|17. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-08-2009 22:19:13|
It depends on WHY they are High-K bats to begin with.
If you're a hitter with slightly above-average bat speed, plus pitch recognition, good plate coverage and strong, consistent, swing mechanics, you can still strike out 150 times a season and hit .280.
Thome's that guy.
If you're a hitter with below-average bat speed, below-average pitch recognition, poor plate coverage and inconsistent swing mechanics, you can strike out 150 times a season and hit far under .280.
Clement's that guy. At least right now he is.
|18. By: SABR Matt on 02-08-2009 22:23:01|
1) I would not describe Clement as NORMALLY having below average bat speed. His bat speed was good enough to slug .500 in a pitcher's park in AAA.
I would also not describe him as having below average pitch recognition. His above average BB/K in AAA argues otherwise.
We haven't seen the real Clement in the big leagues. Your statements only make sense if you believe the Clement we saw last year was the real Clement...at least IMHO.
|19. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-08-2009 23:37:32|
Well, then you're missing the boat on him. Because of his load and inconsistent bat path, his bat speed is, by MLB measures, below average.
I've never spoken to a scout, hitting coach, manager, player, pitcher... anyone not in the M's organization, that feels otherwise.
And you're just flat out wrong, Matt. He does have below-average pitch recognition - again, by MLB standards.
And you are completely missing the entire point of the post, Matt. Read it again. Seriously.
I didn't say I was convinced of anything for sure. Not in either direction. And your arguments for .280-.300 batting averages are extremely unfounded.
Sure, he's lit up Triple-A pitching. So has Scott Maclain, Dan Johnson, BUCKY JACOBSEN, Val Pascucci, Jon Knott, Jeff Mathis, Andy Green... All who made the PCL's post season all-star team and finished in the top five of that year's MVP voting... Johnson and Maclain won the award with numbers very much like those Clement posted a year ago.
Where are they in the big leagues today?
Only one of them is certain to break camp on a 25-man roster - Mathis - two have an outside chance, and the others aren't likely to come close.
Why? Because they can't hit big-league pitching.
And all of them showed either very good eye ratios, or at least a strong ability to pile up bases on balls and power with their strikeouts.
Fact. Stats in AAA mean nothing if the physical skills of the player don't strongly suggest that he can continue to get better to the point where he can replicate, to an extent, that performance in the big leagues.
Saying we haven't seen the real Clement in the bigs yet is both safe and a cop out. Especially when I already said that by suggesting he could very well fill out a .260/.340, 20-25 homer profile.
So now my statement don't make sense?
You're already standing on very thin ice, dude.
This isn't your area, you're completely out of your element here if you're delving into the player development portion with your statistical analysis.
We've reached the limit of what you can offer to this particular discussion.
|20. By: 01v-dubs on 02-09-2009 00:11:15|
Jason, I'm looking forward to the future installments of this I guess roster perspective series you'll be doing. Just curious are you, or will you be doing a piece on the LF situation? Comparing the two contenders for the spot Chavez and Wlad, and who should get the bulk of playing time there. I know it says we won't be talking about the veterens, but Wlad certanly is not one, and Chavez in LF everyday really isn't all that exciting.
|21. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-09-2009 00:15:24|
I'll talk about Wlad, dubs, yes.
|22. By: marinerseric on 02-09-2009 01:01:51|
If Clement can do 260/.340, 20-25 then he would be an above average catcher. Problem is sticking at that position right now.
Johjima is there blocking him at the moment from catching full time and seeing what he can do.
Is there a way to send Johjima to triple A? I see he has options left on his contract.
|23. By: SABR Matt on 02-09-2009 06:30:46|
No one is "certain" of anything...I never accused you of claiming otherwise.
But, Jason, there's a big difference between guys like Bucky Jacobsen and Val Pascucci...and Jeff Clement. Jacobsen and Pascucci were not drafted for their projectable major league skillsets. These were projects who mastered AAA after multiple attempts. Clement comes from a backgroud of having the most projectable power in his (admittedly weak) draft class. You don't set all time records for home runs in high school or get taken third in a draft if scouts think you'll develop below average bat speed.
It should also be noted that Clement doesn't strike out anywhere NEAR as often as Pascucci, Jacobsen or any of the other names you listed with the possible exception of Dan Johnson. I'm certainly not arguing Clement current has Jim Thome batspeed...but I don't think anyone in the scouting world is going to compare him to Bucky Jacobsen.
*shrug* At this point all we have to do is sit and watch...Clement will either do as I expect and tighten his swing when he feels more healthy or he will not.
|24. By: DobberSr on 02-09-2009 08:38:27|
Looking forward to Spring Training and being able to see all the new faces. Lots of positions should be up for grabs. Will your Handboook be delivered in time for me to pack it in my bag?
|25. By: dewey on 02-09-2009 08:38:33|
All the arguments have been made here about Clement but the facts are he is a poor reciever with bad foot work who doesnt throw well.So with that said he IS NOT a ood catcher yes he has powr but unless you want to see a track meet everynight he catches we better just let him DH.
|26. By: SABR Matt on 02-09-2009 08:40:47|
You do know that a lot of very good teams have featured slugging catchers who weren't particularly good fielders, right? I don't think the Mets and Dodgers would tell you they regretted have Piazza.
Clement is unpolished back there, but I agree with Jason that he has the capability to get better.
|27. By: FatBat on 02-09-2009 09:19:44|
I think we will end up seeing Jason's Jeff Clement for the first two months, then by the end of the season more of Matt's. The guy was clearly a big time prospect hitter. Are we forgetting where he was in the top 50 prospects last year(or the year before?) What 6 or 7th? I'm only saying is I'm on board with it comes down to heart. You can teach a kid anything if he realy wants it, he will pick it up-as far as hitting goes. catching aside. No one thought much of Ibanez being much of a hitter, but he picked it up and wasnt he in his late 20's when he did? and as far as Recieving for clement all you had to do was watch him and compare to Joh, Clement was a better receiver, and took control of the field by calling players out and signaling. I thought much more than Joh does. as for his body, i think is the only thing that could keep him from catching. But lutz all wait and see.
|28. By: SABR Matt on 02-09-2009 13:01:53|
Yeah...as weak as his fundamentals are at this moment when it comes to blocking pitches and moving his feet, he looked like a pretty good field general to me back there...moving the infield, talking his pitchers through jams etc. I know he's young so it will take time to develop the level of trust some catchers have form their pitchers, but I don't think Clement is the black hole of despair on defense that people may currently believe.
I also don't think Clement will hit .280 in 2009. I think the .280-.300 stuff is his ceiling...what he hits in his prime years.
|29. By: dewey on 02-09-2009 16:30:06|
Hey SABR with all do respect for you to put Clement and Piazza in the same breath is a joke! One hall of famer one who hasnt done an ything but struggle.Piazza was a offensive machine so you can look past things with him and also 2 diffrent leagues alltogether.I follow the Mariners very closley and there catching guru Roger Hansen hasnt gotten him even close to avg he isnt gonna get there.Who on gods green earth said Joh was a good catcher? He is below avg also so thats no one to compare him with.A young catcher is 21-22 not 26-27 and been playing 5 years just face the facts the guy isnt a good catcher but as much as ive said this i think he can be a avg DH.
|30. By: dewey on 02-09-2009 16:32:41|
SABR Matt how many games in person have you seen Clement play? Not on tape i said been in the stadium?
|31. By: 01v-dubs on 02-09-2009 16:52:58|
I think you're being a little harsh dewey, while I can't speak for Matt, I think you misunderstood his point. He's not equating Piazza and Clement offensivly, all he was saying is that most teams are willing to have a below average defensive catcher if he's a very good hitter, and lets face it, if Clement does not improve and only turns into a .260 hitter with 20-25 hr power, thats still a lot better then the norm for the position.
Keith Law recently said in a chat that if Clement is a 45 on defense given his offensive upside he'd be an above average catcher. He's be improving consistantly since being drafted, and I think a 45 or a little above that is where Clement will be if he's healthy.
Clement is 25, which yes is still young for a catcher, how many 21-22 year old catchers are there in the bigs? Weiters is a phenoem and he'll be 23 if he makes it up this year.
And its a lot easier to analyze a player on tape then in person, given the amount of angles and ability to rewind, slow things down etc.
|32. By: SABR Matt on 02-09-2009 16:53:57|
The whole "how many games have you been in the stadium" logical fallacy gets old.
My being in the stadium would not do me any good - my eyesight is poor, so I see the game a lot better through the web broadcast than I would at the stadium. I live across the country, making trips to Safeco impractical.
And I was not putting Piazza and Clement on the same footing. I was pointing out that having a great defensive catcher is not a prerequisite for team success. Clement will have a lot more value as a solid slugging catcher, mediocre defense included, than he will as an average-solid designated hitter. And there is more to being a good catcher than footwork and pitch-blocking. Clement appeared to be very sharp and had a positive influence on defense compared to Johjima. This comes from someone who *IS* a scout...who I'd be inclined to trust a lot more than someone who comes at me with the same tired cliched arguments.
|33. By: SABR Matt on 02-09-2009 17:09:38|
Just for the sake of a little clarity...
My primary area of study in the game is sabermetrics, but no one should be fooled into thinking I don't have a lot of visual exposure to the game. I watch around 200 games a year between the Mariners, the college team (Stony Brook Seawolves - solid program we have up here, though hardly California or SEC type dominance), the Mets (my second team) and the post-season. I also spend enough time looking at footage to compete with your typical armchair scout easily.
I am certainly not going to try to pass myself off as a good scout, but just because someone studies the game from a numerical perspective primarily does not mean he has no understanding of the physical game on the field. As I said earlier in this thread, a lot of what a sabermetrician has to do is try to explain his numerical observations in physical terms. Sabermetrics, if practiced correctly, if not just playing around with the numbers until we get formulas that seem to work...it's a scientific pursuit that begins with OBSERVATION of the game...the same kind of observation that scouts practice every day.
The scientific method: observe the world around you, ask questions or diagnose problems with what you see, propose a possible explanation or solution, construct a test to see if your idea has merit or if it's clearly wrong, analyze your findings...lather rinse repeat. Point is...I'm not just whacking away at the database hoping to find some magical answer. A lot of my ideas come from good old mark one eyeball. Even given the manufactured defect in my model of eyeball.
|34. By: Slurve on 02-09-2009 17:50:47|
I think the basis of the Anti-Clement at Catcher is that we have Adam Moore a catcher who can field his position adequately and has pop in his bat in the system also I've read from the PI/Times blog that they rather see Johnson there even than Clement... (Then again it is the Times/PI blogs...)
I still like Clement he's a big lefty bat and he isn't Piazza bad with the glove and Clement still has value at the catcher position.
|35. By: Lamda on 02-09-2009 19:06:10|
how long till we see Moore behind the plate for the M's?? Two years? He obviously seems to be the heir-apparent for the position so was curious what you project him to be at this level.
|36. By: SABR Matt on 02-09-2009 19:15:20|
I know Moore is the best defensive catcher in the system (or so say our scouts) but I'm not that excited about him until he proves he can hit AAA...and even then I don't see him as having the power potential of Clement. I think he translates to something like .285/340/.440 with the bat (15 HRs)
|37. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-09-2009 19:39:36|
If the only information you're using involves numbers, you're not going to come up with a useful assessment of a developing player.
It's PART of the process, but at a significant level, you have to SEE that player. You have to see him swing, see his balance at the plate, and in the case of Clement, see him move behind the plate, see his technique and footwork.
Otherwise, you can't tell the difference in actual abilities between the Val Pascucci's and someone like Jeff Clement. Physically, those players are every bit the talent Clement is. Sorry, it's just true.
And Matt, just a question... what's the fascination with Moore proving his worth at the plate in AAA?
Most scouts wanted to see Moore produce beyond the hitter's paradise that is the Cal League - he did that. It guarantees nothing, but this whole "I'm not excited about him until ge proves he can hit in AAA..." I don't get it.
I would have understood a lot more if you would have said you'd get pumped when he hits in the bigs.
And if Moore is a .780 OPS bat, which I think might be pretty accurate at this stage, he's better than Clement.
Clement's offensive upside is higher, but it's also riskier, and his defense is shaky and comes with mucho questions.
It's my opinion that Moore sees time in the bigs in 2009, and I would not be surprised if it's pre-break.
|38. By: Lamda on 02-09-2009 19:55:10|
well for the most part it usually seems that if you got a catcher that can hit 15/80 that's pretty good/normal. It's only if they can venture beyond that they become a superstar. I think we'd all be happy with another Dan Wilson type for 10 years that handles the pitchers well, etc.
|39. By: SABR Matt on 02-09-2009 20:20:57|
I would most definitely *NOT* be happy with Dan WIlson for ten years. Dan Wilson not only was useless offensively, he wasn't that great defensively either. He did handle the pitchers well, and he deserves a lot of credit for that...but no...I want more than Dan Wilson if I can get it.
Why do I want to see Moore hit at the AAA level? Because most players don't transition well from AA straight the majors...especially those than lack any outstanding skills. Moore is a very solid young prospect, but he's not the kind of player you fast-track. He doesn't come to the table with tremendous god-given ability at any one task. If he does play in 2009, he's not going to hit much. I think he needs more time. And I'm not sold on his being a safer bet than Clement with the bat only. I think he's safer in that he's healthier and more likely to stick at the catching position. But I want Clement to prove he can't do the job before I hand it to Moore.
|40. By: SABR Matt on 02-09-2009 20:24:16|
And I have to wonder if you read my whole rant above Jason...I just got through explaining that I don't look at numbers blindly without context and that a big part of the job of a sabermetrician is to explain physically what he sees in the stat sheet.
You are of course right that the younger and less experienced a player is, the less useful statistical methods become. But when we talk about player ceiling...I think looking at comparable players and their statistical history is a valid secondary approach to the scouting charts.
I would never argue that scouting is irrelevant to my decisionmaking process...if I were the type to think that way, I wouldn't have joined your blog.
|41. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-09-2009 21:37:39|
Let me end this discussion right now, Matt.
The statistical data available to predict MiLB numbers for MLB players is so nil compared to the data of MLB'ers to predic their future as MLB'ers that it's almost not even worth talking about.
It's not like Clement is 19 and certain to get better. As a physical talent, he is what he is.
And since you can't "explain physically" what a player is doing "physically" without seeing him, you're entire first paragraph is as useless as anything said in this entire conversation.
You can explain the results of the physical talent, those the physical skills of said player produced during a specific period of time, and attempt to predict his future with it, but it's a very, very small part of the process. VERY small.
By seeing the player play, watching him in drills, BP, in the batter's box, watching which pitches he's actually having problems hitting, which pitches a catcher is having problems blocking, how he frames.
That's the only way you get to SEE if there is any other explanations for his success, lack of success, or whether some of the struggles or successes are subjective in any manner.
So many things to consider when talking about a young player with development remaining, one with so little pro experience.
One thing that is a must these days is the talent in which players are competing against. I don't just mean the age, level and environment, but how good are the pitchers Clement raked against in Tacoma last year compared to the other AAA circuit and previous seasons.
It's likely that Clement's great numbers in Tacoma were against the weakest crop of starting pitchers the PCL has seen in some time, and while that doesn't explain everything - Clement's abilities had something to do with his results - but it's another part of the process.
Yet another part that statistics, or the analyses of those statistics, cannot derive useful explanations from, even a little bit.
There's a ton of value in the predictive stats for big leaguers, such as wOBA, eye ratio metrics, FIP, among many others, of course. But none of those have the same track record - or even close to the same success - predicting prospects/MLB talents with so little MLB experience, using either their limited MLB results or their MiLB numbers.
If Clement were a four or five-year MLB veteran and we were talking about a 2009 projection, I wouldn't disagree, and I certainly wouldn't argue either side.
It's not my area.
But Clement is a 25-year-old with two plus years of pro ball under his belt and less than a year in the big leagues - a prospect for all practical purposes.
That is my area.
|42. By: Lonnie on 02-09-2009 22:03:15|
"It's PART of the process, but at a significant level, you have to SEE that player. You have to see him swing, see his balance at the plate, and in the case of Clement, see him move behind the plate, see his technique and footwork"
Boy, that is soooo true! My interest in Moore and Valbuena last year started when they made such a good showing at West Tenn, but I became rock-solid in their corners after actually seeing them play.
There is so much that just doesn't translate well with numbers, especially so with MiLB players.
|43. By: huhwhat on 02-09-2009 22:19:54|
Do you think Clement was bothered at the plate when he was the DH?
Cause just looking at the splits, it seemed like his offensive performance as a catcher was pretty good, even though it's a small sample size.
|44. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-09-2009 22:28:35|
I don't think so, no. His numbers as a DH were fine in the minors.
|45. By: stickball on 02-09-2009 23:33:30|
In your experience, is there any truth to the remark that the rigors of catching affect a catcher's hitting?
|46. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-09-2009 23:44:26|
Sure, that's certainly got some validity to it. It wears one down physically, more so than any other position, so undoubtedly it takes a toll.
If nothing else, it robs players of foot speed and affects the knees, ankles and hips and offensively their avg, obp and slg could all take a hit.
Whether it be after eight or nine innings, in the dog days of a single season or over a career's worth of catching, it's certainly going to affect the player physically, so there's an inherent affect on that player's ability to do anything physical.
|47. By: slick on 02-09-2009 23:46:34|
I know this is a thread about Clement, but this Spring training I am really interested in Rob Johnson. I think Johnson calls a good game, and I said it before he just seems to be on the same page as the starters (good chemistry). If Johnson proves he can hit 250-260, and make decent contact and profile as a guy who can hit 10-15 HR I would not mind having him being the starting catcher like #38 said a Dan Wilson type catcher.
|48. By: SABR Matt on 02-10-2009 06:55:43|
I'd be interested to see the list of starting pitchers against whom Clement hit last year at Tacoma before I concluded that they were "the weakest crop of pitchers in recent memory" at that level. Understand though, I'm not just talking about his hitting performance in that short sample of 2008...I'm talking about what he hit there from June of '07 until his call-up to Seattle...nearly a full season of at bats.
Also understand that as I've tried to point out on several occasions, I *agree* with you that scouting a young player with little experience is going to be more important than trying to divine something from his minor league statistics. I do, however, think that the scouts who drafted Clement third in 2005 did so for a reason. That was a fairly thin draft class, but even so, they talked about his projectable power and his compact swing (!) and his good eye at the plate...I just fear the opinions cropping up form scouts now are being too heavily influenced by Clement's bad performance in 2008 (which may be heavily health related).
When they tell you his bat speed is slow, for example, they can't be talking about through speed. From what I got to see of Clement in 2008, there was nothing wrong with his through speed. They have to be talking about him looking weirdly late on pitches because the swing was too long and because he was out-thinking himself on occasion (waiting too long to pull the trigger).The word I had on Clement from ST 2007 was that he was the kind of hitter who needed to get comfortable with new competition before you would see his real bat speed. Combine that with his bad knee sapping his power and causing him to want to load up more before he swung and it explains to me why a minor leaguer who, when drafted, was talked about as having good bat speed and a solid eye for the strikezone suddenly appeared to be a tick below average in both pitch recognition and bat speed. To me the 2008 MLB campaign is the thing that does not fit. The all-world high school power bat with a good intro scouting report who hits well at every level as he progresses through the Mariner system...who displays above average eye ratio (which comes from being a good judge of pitches) and looks right on track to unleash the projectable power...suddenly goes quiet because his bat is now too slow?
I just don't buy it. I don't believe we saw the real Clement in 2008. Whether you agree or not, all points have probably been made. Wait for the year to start and we'll see what happens.
Of course nothing I say has meaning if Clement can't stay healthy...that changes the equation just like it changed the equation in '08.
|49. By: dewey on 02-10-2009 08:41:03|
When Jason says it was the worst crop he has seen in a while at 3A why would you need a list ? He goes to every home game isnt that enough for you? Rob Johnson from everything ive read that Roger Hansen has said is the best defensive catcher in the system ive read where he says he reminds him of Dan Wilson and i think Dan had a nice career.On Clement he he was never considered a good catcher and a 45 from the people i speek with is a grade to high.
|50. By: SABR Matt on 02-10-2009 09:12:26|
This might SHOCK you Dewey...but no...I don't trust that Jason has the gospel truth in his head just because he is a bright guy who attends a lot of games. :) Scouts can be wrong...and frequently are. And attending baseball games is not a credential for having baseball knowledge...it helps, but it is certainly not a guarantee (to Jason: I know you are VERY knowledgeable...I just think it's too simplistic to expect that someone will automatically know the entire league because he goes to lots of games)
|51. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-10-2009 10:14:18|
That's a widely accepted piece of information about both the PCL and the Cal league in 2008. It's not just something that comes from me or a few people sitting in the 23rd row at PGE Park.
Managers, players, scouts, other obersvers... all agree. You'd be hard pressed to find someone that did NOT think that about both leagues.
|52. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-10-2009 10:15:52|
And to clarify that 45 on Clement's defense, Law wasn't giving him that grade. He was saying that if he can be that...
|53. By: Trent on 02-10-2009 10:18:53|
There was an analysis done on the absolutely mediocre crop of pitching talent that Clement was able to destroy during his streak last year. I don't recall who did it (Jason, Dave) but it's out there. If memory serves correct, Clement struggled early, which had a direct correlation to the fact that the best AAA pitchers were in AAA. As the season progressed, these arms were called up, leaving weaker pitchers. Clement's AAA statline followed this.
You can critique Jason's "scoutiness" and value your statistical analysis of Clement's season, but you're falling into that statistical trap. You're using a result based analysis, completely ignoring "the how" (or means) of how you arrived at the result. Statistical analysis is an incredibly valuable tool, but the rigidity and stubborness to acknowledge the variability in the "results" is making your argument moot.
|54. By: Lonnie on 02-10-2009 12:15:06|
Set side-by-side, how does Adam Moore stack up against Clement? Do you think that it is possible for Moore and Clement to be our catching tandem in '10? Who would you prefer to be the primary catcher in that scenario?
|55. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-10-2009 12:37:54|
If both players were guaranteed to be 100% healthy, I'd lean toward Jeff in the end. His bat has quite a bit more upside and his handedness breaks any near-ties there might be.
But durability is a very large part of catching and Moore has shown that, Clement hasn't. Jury is still out on both in many areas.
A tandem of the two in 2010? I'm assuming you've found a way to package Johjima with some egg salad to send off to Tapei, or something...
The Mariners might have the single two most untradeable contracts in baseball in Silva and Johjima, and both have three years left at a combined 21 mil per year.
Thanks, Bill. Now go rot in baseball hell.
|56. By: 01v-dubs on 02-10-2009 13:34:35|
I know its not nice, but if I were the M's I simply would not play Joh at all this year in hopes he opts out of his contract and goes back to Japan.
If Clements healthy, I would just play him and Johnson, and let Joh sit on the bench.
|57. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-10-2009 13:38:37|
That's not something the players union would take so well, dubs. And if the M's want a chance at free agents, particularly from Japan, they have to find a way to mix whats best for the team with a little of what helps Johjima.
I'm still in the camp "can he be that bad again?" since he didnt show much actual decline in 2007, his second in the bigs.
I think a lot of his problems are his inability to adjust.
|58. By: 01v-dubs on 02-10-2009 13:53:33|
I know, its just that Joh has an opt-out clause in his contract I believe, and with Clement ready now, Johnson really close, and Moore potentially less then a year away, it would be ideal if Joh decides he wants to play in Japan again.
|59. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-10-2009 14:04:10|
Joh has had that opt-out from day one. But why would he walk away from 24 million?
It's not like Kaz, who had just the one year left on his deal when he went back to Japan.
|60. By: SABR Matt on 02-10-2009 14:26:23|
Why should Johjima walk away from 24 mil? That depends. Would Johjima prefer to actually play baseball? Because in 2010, Johjima or no Johjima, he's not going to be catching in Seattle. He will walk away if the Mariners warn him that he's going to be rotting on the bench 90% of the 2010 season. You can't bench him in 2009, but if he fails again, you can certainly threaten to bench him going forward. Of course there's nothing about Johjima's 2008 season that would lead me to believe he changed as a hitter...so I expect a rebound to at least passable mediocrity. After 2009, it would be a two year contract and if he performs OK...then you might be able to trade him if you eat a little bit of his salary and don't ask for much in return.
To Jason...I wasn't doubting the veracity of your claim re: the league in general in terms of pitching strength. It may well be entirely true since teams tend to skip AAA with their best pitchers these days. But I just wanted to know who in particular Clement faced, because without that information, we don't know whether he actually faced something like a representative sample. 2008 was a short year for Clement in AAA...his numbers may be inflated because if I'm not mistaken early in the year Tacoma played in the southwest quite a bit (high elevation and dry weather).
|61. By: bacon on 02-10-2009 15:04:47|
I'm a huge fan of your insight, it's awesome!
Just one question though... if stat analysis is relatively invalid at the prospect level, then why is Matt here? It doesn't make a ton of sense to me. The chastising he's catching is a little much for being a new addition. Maybe an email or phone call is in order.
Anyway, thanks again for all the great stories, it should be a fun next few years.
|62. By: SABR Matt on 02-10-2009 15:56:58|
In Jason's defense, I think I'm here because he wanted the site to include commentary on the major league level as well as on the youngsters and he thought I could contribute with an alternative viewpoint which this site has previously not really included at a very organized level. He said it himself earlier...he doesn't intend to comment on veteran players, nor does he want to argue either side if there's a debate on the future projection of veteran players.
If I'm wrong about my function here, Jason can feel free to correct me. :) But I think that's why I'm here....he thinks that I have essentially no place commenting on non-veteran players which is why he's being so...um...definitive...in his responses to me.
|63. By: ThePaul on 02-10-2009 16:44:01|
I've really got nothing to add to the discussion, except that you keep on saying that Clement's draft class was weak on hitters. However, most people would say that the 2005 class of position players were the best of the decade: Upton, Gordan, Zimmerman, Braun, Tulo, Maybin, McCutchen, Bruce, Ellsbury, and Rasmus (All drafted in the first round).
|64. By: Wishhiker on 02-10-2009 16:53:49|
There didn't seem reason to worry because neither Jason nor Matt has seemed to take anything personallym I read Jasons comments the same as Matt and understand the reasonings put forth by both Matt and Jason in this discussion. It's a debate that has been informative on multiple perspectives. I applaud the addition of Matt as well as what he has put forth in the few threads he has so far started and joined the discussion since being added. I think it's great to have someone on the site in the know about statistical formulas who will answer questions about stats and projection systems without looking down on the person asking it as I have seen on other sites. A part of why I am excited by both the new cabinet and new M's Management is that they are both built of dissenting voices and It's a positive thing. As long as everyone plays nicely which has seemed to be the trend thus far.
|65. By: Lamda on 02-10-2009 17:12:08|
he's being definitive because he wants you to move on from the point. Make your point and move on to the next story or issue regarding the overall thread - don't keep beating the same point - that could be where he's getting a bit irritated, lol.
|66. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-10-2009 17:16:10|
We've always talked stuff outside prospects here... it's not prevalent, but we definitely do.
|67. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-10-2009 17:22:52|
Certainly Clement's class was anything but weak.
Matt, you've yet to respond to my email, so unless you want me posting it here, respond...
And I think anyone has a place to comment, Matt's just wrong. Call that definitive if you want.
|68. By: dewey on 02-10-2009 21:11:59|
So Mtt scouts cn be wrong i agree but i hope you dont think SABR is gonna get better results then scouts that have watched thousands and thousands of games our you?You hide behind numbers do you know the park Moore hit in in A ball is one of the best hitting parks in america our does that even matter?
|69. By: dewey on 02-10-2009 21:15:37|
Also SABR the japenese players play here regardless the owner is from japan and its his team so to say joh wont atleast play 50% of the time is way offbase.
|70. By: baseballman on 02-10-2009 22:01:10|
dewey get off matts case. he is a numbers guy, so what? he believes in sabermetrics, so thats what he bases his opinion off of, why does that bother you so much?? get over man...
BTW JAC, havent said it yet, but I LOVE the notebook. for anyone who hasnt ordered it yet, DO IT! JAC has got some great stuff in their, and there is more stuff comin for subscribers. keep it up JAC
|71. By: Jason A. Churchill on 02-10-2009 23:40:54|
And for those who care, Matt's no longer with the PI community. He's already work out his welcome.
Anyways, dewey has a point... Johjima got his contract because of people who are still involved in the organization... no reason to think Wak and Jack are going to be allowed to sit Johjima all season and use him as a full-time backup.
|72. By: Jackson45 on 02-11-2009 15:57:49|
|73. By: Goose on 02-11-2009 20:17:59|
What Jackson said.
Although it did provide for some pretty funny back and forth in this thread.
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