Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Hearty Welcome to Hardball Review!

Hey - I just noticed a new blog in town. One of my blog-o-sphere mateys, known as "etowncoug" and a few other folks have just opened shop over at Hardball Review. Etown/Brent has written a fine article on Jose Lopez, and honestly, I think we're sharing a lot of the same thoughts:
The long term fix to Lopez is not as simple as a change of scenery. Lopez needs find a way to hide his weaknesses. Waiting for a pitch that he can drive would be an excellent start. I am extremely skeptical of any player whose breakout ability depends so heavily on his pitch recognition ability to go from well below average to above average. This isn’t going to happen overnight and until this improves I see his ceiling as an average player.
Jose is one of two players that I believe have much more value to another club than they do the Mariners (the other being Brandon Morrow, who I believe will only be used as a bullpen arm in this organization, since they're not going to be patient enough to give him the 1-2 years in the minors that he would need to truly become an effective starter, and I don't believe Morrow's talented/polished enough to pull off becoming an effective starter over the winter and through spring training -- but I digres...). That doesn't mean they should trade him away just to trade him, like they did with Carlos Guillen and to a certain extent Rafael Soriano. But indeed, Lopez still has enough upside that his struggles in the second halves of 2006 and 2007 are just minor bumps in the road.

It's easy to forget that he's only 23 years old. There's still a lot of potential for him to mature into an above-average second baseman, but again -- as Brent mentions -- until he improves on his pitch recognition and becomes more selective on the pitches he tries to drive, he's not going to help the team with his bat. His glove certainly took some major strides forward, and he can still improve in that area of his game. His bat, though, is quite a ways behind. I believe he's talented enough to pull it together, but it may take more time than this organization is willing to give him.

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At 10/16/2007 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the free pub!

Hopefully the M's can flip Jose Lopez into something with more value than Ramon Santiago or Horacio Ramirez.

At 10/21/2007 11:45 AM, Blogger Snave said...

I don't know... I see what happened with Asdrubal Cabrera going to the Indians for half a season of an old Perez, and I have to wonder if this organization could get any players of value in trade for Lopez as long as the current front office people are in place.

I have to wonder if the Mariners organization has a vision for the future, other than the future that is "next season". Do they seem to be considering anything much beyond 2008? Sometimes I'm just not sure... I don't believe cobbling together a semi-contender out of used parts every year is the best way to go when I look at teams like the Indians, Rockies and Diamondbacks and their use of youth and homegrown products. For example, while I believe Miguel Batista was a good acquisition, given his age I have a hard time imagining that the M's consider him much more than a stopgap for their rotation. Signing him was for the immediate future, not long-term. I think a stopgap player or two is fine, as long as you're giving some kids who might vie for that position some time to become major-league ready. Do the Mariners have starting pitchers who might be ready to assume Batista's role once his contract expires? I hope so, and I'm sure they probably do...

But I would like to see the Mariners make a trade or two, or some free-agent signings, for players who are in their mid- to late 20s and who have upside. Bringing in Vidro, Guillen and Batista did help the ballclub become more competitive for 2007, but all were added during the last off-season, and none of them are long-term solutions. I'm sure Weaver was in that same category. Maybe the Mariners were (or still are) thinking that HoRam has some potential, but he sure didn't demonstrate much of it in 2007. With Sexson's skills undergoing a decline and Ibanez getting older, I think it is going to become increasingly difficult for the team to make adjustments with an eye toward, say, 3-5 years from now, unless they get going on it soon.

2007 was a surprise, but the successes of 2007 may end up putting a crimp in any actual "rebuilding" the Mariners might need to do. The team was crappy for a while, and with last season's winning record, I don't really see the front office making moves that might cause the team to have a couple of sub-.500 seasons during a rebuilding phase... but I wish that is the way they would lean. I think it is the way to go. I would prefer to see maybe one or two sub-.500 seasons during a "rebuild" than I would to see four or five more seasons in which the team relies on older spare-parts guys.


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