Sunday, April 27, 2008

Good Job Seattle, Thanks

The Seattle Mariners really are one of the worse run organizations in baseball. That's one of the reasons I was confident in predicting they'd win less than 85 wins this year. In a pretty shocking move, the M's have extended catcher Kenji Johjima's contract through 2011, despite having power hitting catching prospect Jeff Clement tearing it up in AAA. Clement's defense might leave a bit to be desired, but the trade-off to get his bat in the line-up at a premier position should be worth it. I had assumed that Johjima was keeping the catcher position warm until Clement was ready, and I think he's pretty much ready. Seattle could really use his bat in the line-up right now, but he may just end up being a trade-chip for them at the deadline. Maybe they'd like to take Jay Payton off the O's hands - he's a veteran righty pull hitter with a lack of patience at the plate. I'd even include Steve Trachsel and Aubrey Huff, if they threw in Carlos Truinfel. Come on, he's like 3 years away from the majors and you're trying to contend now.

Here's a good breakdown of the deal, at fangraphs by the guy who runs the ussmariner blog.
"When you look at the following graph, what is your initial reaction?

Now, take that reaction and add the following information:

1. Catcher
2. Turns 32 years old in two weeks
3. Right handed pull hitter, your team plays in a park that hates right handed pull hitters

Okay, now, let’s go through the formula. If you take Initial Reaction + Position Knowledge + Age + Park Suitability and your conclusion is Contract Extension, congratulations, you’re qualified to work for the Mariners. They just extended Kenji Johjima through the 2011 season. Johjima’s a solid player and has been a real asset since arriving from Japan, but the timing of this move seems odd. Top prospect Jeff Clement is tearing the cover off the ball in Tacoma, and while his defense is underwhelming, the team could really use a left handed bat in the line-up. Extending Johjima ensures that Clement will be moving to first base or designated hitter, reducing his value to the club and taking away the chance to balance the line-up.

The Mariners just continue to fail to learn lessons from their past mistakes. The organization consistently gives overly long contracts to replaceable declining veterans, then gets surprised when those guys don’t perform at their career averages. I’m sure they’ll be stunned in several years when Carlos Silva and Johjima are struggling and eating up a good portion of the payroll along with premium roster spots."
Thanks Seattle for giving me confidence that I made the right call.

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