Time To Acknowledge The Rumors

Word is the Mariners are on the verge of landing Casey Kotchman from the Red Sox. Alex Speier has it as Kotchman for a role player, a PTBNL, and cash, while Ken Rosenthal identifies the role player as Bill Hall. Nothing has officially happened yet, but it's beginning to feel inevitable.

Here's Kotchman in a nutshell:

  • 27 year old lefty 1B
  • Once highly-regarded prospect
  • .269/.337/.406 career bat, .324 wOBA
  • Plus defender, +5 < x < +10 or so according to several measures
  • Little power; 47 PA's per homer, longest homer 414 feet
  • Good eye, hits for contact
  • Decent but below-average player overall

Kotchman is a few years removed from his "big" 2007, a season that still saw him fall short offensively of Russell Branyan's 2009. The last two seasons he's settled in as a below-average bat with an above-average glove, making him something like a 1-1.5 win player. He is not an impact addition, and though his history and age give him the appearance of upside, realistically, even an average offensive season would come as a surprise. He's not going to drive in a ton of runs.

As such, he's underwhelming. Fans wanted to see Z land a bigger bat to fill the hole, myself included, and one of the most common responses to this that I've seen so far is, if Kotchman's all the M's are going to do, why not just go with Mike Carp?

It is necessary to understand that, though Kotchman's no star, he is nevertheless a better player than Carp. For one thing, Kotchman's the far superior defender. For another, Carp just struck out in 20% of his plate appearances in AAA last year, while Kotchman's struck out in 9% of his plate appearances in the bigs. There is literally nothing meaningful that Carp does, right now, that Kotchman doesn't do about as well or better. There's not a huge difference between the two players, but it comes out to a win or so, which is important. If you're mad that the M's didn't splurge for an extra win on top of Kotchman, then you should be satisfied that they at least added a win over Mike Carp.

It's also important that Kotchman is pretty cheap and easily replaceable. I don't know how much money the M's have left to spend, but Kotchman won't take up a whole lot of it, and he's no guaranteed season-long commitment - if he doesn't work out, or if someone better becomes available, then Z can make that move if he so chooses. We haven't committed ourselves to Casey Kotchman. We've committed ourselves to at least Casey Kotchman.

I'm not the biggest fan of this move, myself. Hall's no huge loss, but he was one of our only remaining right-handed bats, and there's a reason why Kotchman's available at the price. It's just a very small upgrade that, at the same time, kind of clouds a flexible roster that was just beginning to make sense. What I really take away from this is that the M's must've seen something in Branyan's medical reports they didn't like at all. The Mariners have needed a 1B from the beginning, and Branyan was open to coming back at a reasonable price. That we've settled on Casey Kotchman implies that the M's didn't see any way they could let Branyan play the field on a regular basis.

So here we are. I don't know how the outfield situation is going to sort out now that the potential righty platoon bat is gone, and I don't know the identity of the PTBNL or the amount of money changing hands, but I assume the M's wouldn't have done this if they didn't have it already figured out, and these M's are generally pretty good at figuring things out. So I'm a little confused, a little content, and a whole lotta neutral.

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