Tag: J.A. Happ

2015 Season Previews: Seattle Mariners

Over the next several weeks, The Baseball Haven will be creating season previews for all 30 MLB teams. You’ll find their projected records (based on PECOTA records from Baseball Prospectus, as of 2/15/2015), each team’s top three players (based on Steamer WAR projections from FanGraphs), and some valuable notes on each team, including likely bounce-back candidates, potential breakout players or fantasy sleepers, as well as a look back at offseason transactions which led to each team’s projections. Stop back frequently to see where your favorite team ranks!

Seattle Mariners

Courtesy: MLB.com
Courtesy: MLB.com

2015 Projected Record: 87-75 (2nd in AL West, 6th in MLB)

Manager: Lloyd McClendon (87-75 in one season with Seattle, 423-521 in six seasons overall)

Top Three Players: 2B Robinson Cano (5.1), RHP Felix Hernandez (4.7), 3B Kyle Seager (4.1)

Bounce-back Player: LHP James Paxton

Paxton missed 102 games last season with a shoulder strain, but, upon returning, he was lights out, posting a 3.19 ERA and 1.31 WHIP over 62 innings and 11 starts, including the stinker in Toronto on 9/22 (2.2 IP, 9 R, 8 ER). He had the same injury that Reds RHP Johnny Cueto had in 2013, but Cueto came back to toss a career-high 243.2 innings in 2014 – so, this shouldn’t hold Paxton back from taking off again. Still, he has made only 17 starts in his brief career, and he’ll rebound from his injury-plaged 2014 and become the No.2 option behind Felix Hernandez in the Mariners’ rotation.

Zunino is much better than that .199 average, and you'll LOVE the power. Courtesy: mlbtraderumors.com
Zunino is much better than that .199 average, and you’ll LOVE the power.
Courtesy: mlbtraderumors.com

Fantasy Player to Watch: C Mike Zunino

Zunino should have most people’s eyes already thanks to his 22 home runs in 2014, but many will be terrified of his .199/.254/.404 line and 33.2 percent strikeout rate. Once upon a time, there was a guy who hit. 227 with 24 home runs and 56 RBI…that was the 2012-version of Mike Napoli, and, though Napoli took a few more pitches than Zunino has in his brief career, we need to remember that this kid will still be just 24 on Opening Day. Zunino is slick with the glove behind the plate and can mash, so he’ll carve out a nice, long career. Get on board and watch him improve as he gains more big league experience.

Offseason Overview: The Mariners had their third winning season since 2004 last year, and they had very little to do to keep things intact for another run, but they did make a few changes. The signed Nelson Cruz, fresh off of his 40-homer outburst in Baltimore, to fill their DH spot with a much-needed, right-handed power hitter. Seattle acquired Seth Smith from San Diego for power-armed, results-deficient Brandon Maurer, and they signed Rickie Weeks to become a super-utility type of player, likely to see a lot of outfield at-bats for the Mariners. The rotation added depth when J.A. Happ was acquired from Toronto for OF Michael Saunders. Several solid moves to improve the roster and the quality of depth, as Seattle tries to get over the hump and make their first World Series in franchise history.

The Verdict: Seattle made some smart decisions this winter. They gave Cruz a four-year, $57 million deal, which could be a gamble given his age (34 on Opening Day), but he was the top offensive talent available on the free agent market for the team’s need. He’ll fit in nicely with Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano in the middle of the order. The rotation is still strong, as Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma provide All-Star level production while young arms like Paxton and Taijuan Walker round out the rotation with Happ (if he didn’t pitch himself out of a rotation spot). The Mariners are primed to strike, especially with a Josh Hamilton-less Angels club that has far more question marks than Seattle does heading into the season. While PECOTA was generous with a duplication of the 2014 record, it wasn’t generous enough. Seattle will win 90 or more games in 2015.


The Grandyman Can’t…Now What for the Yankees?

GrandersonA single pitch from a guy who will be pitching in Triple-A while making $3.7 million could spell disaster for the New York Yankees, and it isn’t even March! J.A. Happ, who looks to be on the outside of the Toronto Blue Jays rotation after the club added Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, and Mark Buehrle to Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero this winter, hit Curtis Granderson (the first pitch of his first plate appearance of the spring) and broke his right forearm, which will keep the slugging outfielder sidelined for the 10 weeks, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network.

After losing Alex Rodriguez until June or later due to another hip surgery, this is not what the Yankees needed. While the club knew early enough this winter to replace ARod with Kevin Youkilis, there aren’t many options to replace Granderson this late in the offseason. While 10 weeks seems like a long time, it would put Granderson back to full health around May 5th, and, possibly, back in pinstripes between May 15 and May 20 after a quick rehab stint.

Internal candidates for the left field job, as Brett Gardner was penciled into the center field job already, will be limited to Juan Rivera, Matt Diaz, or Melky Mesa, as top prospects like Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, and Slade Heathcott aren’t anywhere near ready for the majors.

SorianoWhile it seems crazy, wouldn’t a potential trade for Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano make perfect sense? While he is due to make $36 million over the next two seasons, the Cubs appear willing to eat a majority of the contract, and maybe getting a player like the aforementioned Melky Mesa would be a solid deal. Mesa is 26 years old and hit .264/.325/.480 last year between Double-A and Triple-A, ripping 26 doubles, 23 home runs, and stealing 22 bases, while posting an ugly 118:36 K:BB over 458 at-bats.

While Mesa could post similar numbers in the majors if everything went right, Soriano is a solid, known producer, who rebounded to hit 32 home runs and drive in 108 last season for the Cubs. At 37, he could be headed in the wrong direction, but without him, the Yankees certainly would be. The fact that Granderson is slated to hit free agency after the 2013 season is only more reason to take on Soriano. If the Cubs were to pick up most of his contract, he wouldn’t count very much towards payroll as the Yankees trim to get under the luxury tax and look to re-sign Robinson Cano before he reaches free agency.

Outside of dealing for Soriano, the Yankees could look into signing Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon, or asking Bernie Williams to come out of retirement. If the Yankees do anything, it should be a trade for their former superstar second baseman. The cast of Family Guy doesn’t like those options:

Family Guy