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MaiLLbag: You Asked, We (Sorta) Answered

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Instead of eating turkey, we answered your questions this Thanksgiving. You’re...welcome?

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners
You are the young boy reaching out with a ball, we are the fan standing awkwardly behind you.
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s officially the weekend. You’ve been busy the last few days - Thursday, of course, was dedicated to eating way too much food. Friday? Sleeping off the food coma and shopping for big-time deals.

Meanwhile, our good friend Jerry Dipoto probably spent a grand total of 10 minutes with family before hopping right back on the phone to add a starter or two.

And here at LL Headquarters, we’ve been hard at work answering all of your questions. Enjoy our thoughts below, and have a great weekend.

  • bp42810, LL: Now that the Ms have added DJ Peterson, Paul Fry, and Thyago Vieira, who will be added to the 40 man roster next offseason? Predict (Select anywhere from 3 to 6 names).

Anders: I would assume we’re not including the names of players who are likely to be added and called up mid-season (such as Tyler O’Neill). I’d guess Ryan Yarbrough, Jake Zokan, and I don’t know, Joe DeCarlo? It’s a little hard to predict these things. Thyago Vieira wasn’t even on anyone’s radar this time last year.

Kate: I know Jerry is high on Andrew Moore, and I am too. Tyler, obviously. Jake Zokan needs to make it to the show before he's eligible to collect retirement.

  • sanford_and_son, LL: Your top 5 desert island albums (or movies if you’d rather do that) and a one sentence explanation for each choice.

David: “My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy” - Kanye West - Aren’t that many albums I can take top to bottom and just jam out, this is undisputed the top of that list. “Chulahoma” - The Black Keys - A cover and filler album that’s short, but damn do I love some dirty blues. “Trilogy” - The Weeknd - Sort of cheating since it’s a triple album, but if I have to choose I’d go Trilogy I because, well, just listen. “Mine is Yours” - Cold War Kids - Just hit me in the right mood at right time. “Hozier” - Hozier - Yeah I know this list is heavy on recency bias but that’s fine because these are all damn good cuts.

  • ZZHop, LL: Why carry [a DH] on the roster, when you could use the spot for flexibility, and have DH by committee?

Anders: This is a good question. I think the key here is that the DH is a position where a player is only going to get value out of their bat while playing there. So it doesn’t make any sense to put a decent defensive third baseman or something at DH regularly. You’d just be removing a piece of their value. Among Fangraphs’ designated hitters who had enough plate appearances to qualify, the worst of them was Corey Dickerson with a 101 wRC+, which is 1% better than the average MLB hitter. The DH is a special position in the AL in that it allows you to use a terrific hitter without the penalty of having to use them in the field as well, So it’d be a complete waste to put a utilityman with a light stick there on any sort of regular basis. Unless you’ve got some stellar bench that’s going to average a 120 wRC+ or better at the position, it’s smarter to put a bat-first, field-last player there.

  • GrizBronc, LL: If you were Jerry and ownership gave you an additional $40,000,000 annually to spend on Free Agents, how would you spend it?

David: After the Segura acquisition, I’d say get Rich Hill. I already wrote about Cespedes, which I think would be my other option.

  • Josh Kuh (SmoakOnTheWater), Twitter - Which Mariner orders a fancy drink at Starbucks, and what is it?

Isabelle: Leonys Martin drinks a Venti Caramel Brulee Latte approximately 27 minutes before every game starts, because goodness knows all that energy has to come from somewhere.

Andrew: Shawn O’Malley is well aware that every day is a gift worth celebrating. As such, he exclusively orders the Birthday Cake Frappuccino when he patronizes Starbucks.

  • kennerdoloman, LL: What dinosaur would you all be?

Anders: In my first grade school musical I think I was a velociraptor? I guess that’s the easy answer. But I’d probably just be some lazy herbivore.

Isabelle: Ders, velociraptors aren’t as fun or exciting as we all think they are. Turns out they were essentially the size of big turkeys, which is a HUGE disappointment. Just don’t want you (or first grade you) to be disappointed here like I was.

John: Utharaptors tho

Andrew: As a massive Land Before Time fan (just the first film, not the subsequent 42 sequels), I have a very special place in my heart for the Brontosaurus.

David: Something marine and terrifying like a Kronosaurus.

  • SmoakOnTheWater, LL: Which staff member would you eat, and which staff member is most likely to be a cannibal?

Isabelle: The first part requires further clarification: am I eating them out of necessity, or is this my chance to strategically eliminate one of them? Do varying levels of goodness or badness influence the flavor? Michael Bar is my pick for most likely to be a cannibal, because I have only rarely interacted with him, and quiet mysteriousness would seem to be a key cannibal trait.

Kate: to clarify, I started this because I live in a state of constant fear of nuclear winter. I decided Andrew would be the least appealing to eat (very little meat, all bones) and Ethan would be the most delicious (he's young and athletic and unlike the rest of us, doesn't pollute his body with drugs or alcohol, very high quality eatin’ there)

  • Thehooplehead, LL: I'm getting season tickets for the first time next season. What two seat proximity in what section should I shoot for? What will be the best bang for my Safeco season buck?

Kate: Anywhere on the first base side is a little spendier but if you squeeze over towards 114 you can still have a good view of the field and it's not quite as pricey. For a more budget-friendly option, 314-ish gives you a nice view of the skyline and is close to the corndog booth, my budget ballpark snack of choice.

John: 312-315 is the best value purchase in the stadium. The view of the field is excellent, as Safeco has no bad seats, but you can get an angle that is perpendicular with the third base line that helps cut down on some of the depth perception struggles of a high altitude seat. The view is unparalleled and great if you want to bring less rabid fans too.

  • Kouvre, LL: How long do you think it takes before we will get a proper read on how JDP and Co. have handled scouting and player development?

Isabelle: The earliest you’re going to be able to “properly” be able to assess the new regime’s scouting/player development has to be after members of his 2016 draft class do a full year in the bigs, give or take a couple months. I put “properly” in quotes because of all the questionable areas to use a small sample size, evaluating prospects and their development is arguably the most likely to be effected by sample size. If we measure scouting/player dev as a success based on how many prospects end up in the bigs, and how successful they are up there, then it’s going to take some time for these players to amass large enough amounts of data to determine Jerry & Co.’s success. In the meantime, it’ll also be interesting to see how his and Andy McKay’s new development philosophies influence the victims of Jack Z’s reign.

Grant: I think it’s a constant evaluation process. There are a whole lot of internal signs that are hard to judge, like the infrastructure and the messaging put forth by Andy McKay and the rest of the front office on how to coach players. But from our perspective, I’d probably say we’ll have an idea once guys like Kyle Lewis and others from his draft class make the bigs. We can already get a sense for the types of players they’re targeting in the draft, as evidenced by the high number of college players picked last year, but it won’t be until the system is full of JDP draft picks that we’ll truly understand the player types they prefer.

  • Aussie Mariner, LL: What stats do you look at most often to evaluate players?

Grant: The first stat I’ll look at is WAR - it gives me some general context with which to understand a player’s value, but it’s really only surface-level. For hitters, I’ll look at wRC+ and walk/strikeout rates, along with their slash line, to get a sense of what kind of a hitter they are, and then at the pull%/center%/oppo% numbers to see how they hit. I still generally distrust defensive stats, especially single-season stats, so I’ll look at their career value or at some video to get a sense for their ability with the glove.As far as pitchers, FIP/xFIP and HR/FB, along with BABIP, give me a sense for how good/lucky they are. K% and BB% - notice a theme here? - help me understand them as a pitcher, and I’ll also look at the soft%/medium%/hard% rates to see their contact profile. I’ll also look through Brooks Baseball, but I have no method to my madness there; rather, I just flip through and edit random things until I maybe find something interesting.

Andrew: Unsurprisingly, it appears as though Grant and I look at a lot of the same numbers when sizing up a player. For batters, I rely heavily on wRC+ because it represents so much information in one simple little package; it’s intuitive (it’s scaled such that 100 is average and each point higher/lower represents one percentage point better/worse than league average), attempts to account for park effects/the run environment, and can be used to compare players from different seasons/eras. I’ll also peek at a player’s BABIP/hard hit rates to see if their performance might be heavily influenced by good/bad luck. And of course it’s hard to not get sucked into the appeal of WAR, although I’ll try and be mindful to check out a player’s fWAR, rWAR, and WARP (even though BP’s website layout is hot garbage) to see if there’s much of a difference between the numbers. For pitchers, in addition to WAR(s), I’m a big ol’ sucker for strikeouts so I’ll tend to rely more on a player’s K% or K/9 than I probably should.

David: WAR is a great jumping off point for both pitchers and hitters, but it’s, in my eyes, the 10,000 foot view. When it comes to batters, I’m mostly looking for relationships between BABIP/Swing/Discipline stats/wRC+. The new Hard Hit data is also especially important to my evaluations of trending hitters. Defensive metrics are very, very ill-defined in my eyes.

For pitchers, things are a lot more nebulous for me. I am usually looking at trends on specific pitchers within a given arsenal and going from there. With the Age of the K firmly upon us, I like looking at specific pitches/eye test stuff.

  • olywriter, LL: What do you expect out of Felix Hernandez this season?

Isabelle: Fingers crossed emoji, prayer hands emoji (NO RELIGION), sorority girl shrug emoji, hands-over-eyes monkey emoji, crown emoji

Andrew: Based on a lot of the things that Felix said at the tail-end of last season, it appears as though he strongly believes that his struggles in 2016 were largely due to a lack of adequate preparation during the offseason. I’ve decided that I’m going to believe him when he says this; given his track record with the M’s, I find it very easy (too easy?) to give Felix the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, assuming that he lives more of the gym rat life this offseason, I think (hope/wish/pray) that Felix should have a pretty strong bounce-back year in 2017; he’s almost certainly past his prime, but I don’t think Felix’s days as a ~4-win pitcher are behind him quite yet. It’s possible that I’m being naive, but I sure hope that I’m not... fingers crossed emoji, fingers crossed emoji, fingers crossed emoji

  • Pacific Northwest Vagabond, LL: If the Mariners were to sign Aroldis Chapman how would you write about it? What if they were to acquire Jose Reyes? Would it matter the level of player? Suppose at some time a top prospect got arrested for domestic violence would that be any different?

John: I certainly can’t speak for others, nor the site as a whole, but it would be disappointing and frustrating to me. I think there has to be some degree of compartmentalization, because obviously the player provides a tangible statistical value and production that impacts the team and we are responsible for analyzing that and attempting to project what the importance of such a move would be. DV is an issue that should be better handled culturally and legally, so it is somewhat unreasonable to expect sports teams to do a perfect job navigating a very complicated issue. At the same time, watching and following baseball is a source of entertainment, and I judge the success of a season based on the joy and entertainment it brings me. Of course much of the enjoyment is derived from winning, but this year, for instance, was a big success in my eyes, even without making the playoffs. The Mariners winning the World Series would be the most incredible moment of joy in my life of sports fandom, but would it be worth a season of unease? It would put a constant pall of some degree over anything I wrote.

  • mumoda, LL: Do you think that Dexter Fowler would be worth a large contract and loss of a pick? If so how much of a fit is he for us?

Grant: Signing Fowler, who has played in a grand total of one major league game NOT in center field, would necessitate moving Leonys Martin, or losing much of Fowler’s value by moving him to an easier position (and thus, one where you can find better bats). I’m not a big fan of that, since you’re obviously not capitalizing on value, and I’d rather spend more money on the starting rotation - especially after the Jean Segura trade. So I don’t think he’s a good fit, though in a vacuum, he’s absolutely worth a large contract. Dave Cameron estimated he’ll get a 4/$70MM contract, and that sounds a bit right, and perhaps even a bit low.