As the Mariners get set to embark on the trading season, rumors are flying about who might be headed Seattle’s way. We saw the report last night that the Mariners and Padres have talked about third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, though I have to say, that one doesn’t seem a good fit for Seattle given the guy’s sub-.280 on-base percentage. Haven’t we seen enough of those types of players around here? Yeah, he’d be locked up for a few more years. But so is Yuniesky Betancourt. Young players under contract aren’t always a great thing.
I still like Garrett Atkins of the Rockies, in spite of his salary, as long as the Mariners could include Miguel Batista’s contract as part of the deal. Today’s post at U.S.S. Mariner suggests Mark Lowe could be traded as well and I agree with that. I think both Lowe and Sean White can be used as trade chips in order to bring back the right type of player — not Atkins though. You trade Lowe or White to a non-contending team looking to build for the future. But yes, they are on the right track. The bullpen is a place the Mariners have some depth and can deal from without crippling their current team.
Speaking of trades, we talked a while ago about how that Franklin Gutierrez deal might soon make the Mariners forget about another little swap involving a guy named Adam Jones. Well, the stats have been changing rapidly ever since and “soon” seems to have arrived a lot sooner than most of us thought.
Just waltz on over to FanGraphs and check out the latest numbers posted by Jones, who had quite the inflated-looking hitting stats a month ago. Those have since started to come back down to earth.
To keep score, Jones now has an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .868 compared to .755 for Gutierrez.
That’s a far cry from the 1.002 to .716 edge Jones held a month ago.
On defense, the gap is still largely in favor of Gutierrez, if you go by what Ultimate Zone Rating says. Once again, a caution, small sample sizes can cause these stats to vary and often it requires several seasons of stats to get a clear picture of how a guy is. With Gutierrez, he’s consistently put up some of the game’s top stats so we can assume he’s an excellent defender.
With Jones, he’s now bouncing all over the place and these numbers suggest he might be having an off year, or maybe isn’t as good as first thought to be. Or, maybe he’s sacrificed some defense for bigger power at the plate. It happens. There is also a margin for error in these stats, so keep that in mind. But we’re also debating the difference in ballplayers here, not outlining plans for a nuclear treaty. This is supposed to be fun.
In any event Gutierrez continues to soar, and he’s now headed for a full-season (150 games) pace of 20.7 runs saved as opposed to 16.0 a month ago. Jones, on the other hand, is improving and now on-pace for a minus-11.7 score as opposed to minus-18.6 a month ago.
That’s still a major difference.
Want to have even more fun playing with numbers? Well, over at FanGraphs, they take the offensive and defensive contributions of players and assign dollar values to them.
According to the stats put up on offense and on defense (via UZR) Jones is now putting together a season worth $8 million.
And little old Gutierrez? Uh…cough, cough…$10.4 million.
That’s right, pull yourselves off the floor. According to some of the most advanced defensive metrics out there, Gutierrez might — I said might — be a more valuable player than Jones at this very moment.
He might not be, but there is evidence to suggest that he is. And yeah, maybe the 29 other GMs would all take Jones in a heartbeat becasue of his offense. But as I’ve shown, that gap is closing fast.
Offensively, Jones still has the obvious edge over Gutierrez, though his OBP and slugging have both dropped and his flyballs have slowed from leaving the yard. We talked before about his home run/flyball ratio. That’s come down to 19 percent from 23 percent. It’s still high, meaning his rate at popping long balls could decline even more.
The big decline for Jones, though, has been in his batting average on balls put in play, which had been up at .388 and is now down to .349. His career average in that department is .333 but the sample size is limited and that figure seems a bit high. League average is roughly .290, so, once again, there appears to be room for more decline.
Fewer hits for Jones means his OBP has fallen from .399 to .359.
Gutierrez, meanwhile, has seen his very good OBP stay almost exactly the same — at .346 now compared to .348 a month ago. This is because he relies less on hits and more on drawing walks than Jones does. His walk rate had been 10.4 percent and is now down to 9.2 percent, but it’s still better than what Jones does at 7 percent.
Gutierrez has also seen his batting average on balls put in play go up slightly, from .321 to .333. We’ve seen his last four hits accumulated on two bloops and two balls off infielders’ gloves, meaning luck has swung his way a bit just as it declines for Jones. But the big difference has been in his home run/fly ball rate, up to a more normal 11.1 percent from a previous 6 percent.
This is the big reason why Gutierrez has seen his OPS climb — in power. That home run rate is about average, so he should be able to sustain this offensive pace.
Jones, on the other hand, still has room to decline.
What does this prove? Well, first, it proves that Jack Zduriencik knows how to win a trade.
Also, that it might — I said might — have taken the Mariners one off-season to replace the all-around player they lost in Jones. We’ll see as time goes by and the numbers become more solidified.
But as of right now, at least some sets of numbers are showing that the complete replacment of Jones has already occured.