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We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2009 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2009 Mariners Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of U.S.S. Mariner.

1) Baseball Prospectus estimates that Kenji Johjima – he of the plummeting 3-year AVG/OBP/SLG trend which fell to an atrocious .227/.277/.332 in 2008 – will get 60% of the catching time with Jeff Clement getting 2/3 of his playing time at DH.  How DO you see this playing out and how SHOULD this play out?

I think Clement’s going to end up getting about 65% of the playing time behind the plate – he’ll play against most RHP.  If his knee starts hurting, they’ll shift him to DH and stick Griffey in LF occasionally.  My guess is that Johjima gets less than 300 PA this year.

As for how it should shake out, Clement should given the chance once and for all to prove whether he can catch or not.  The best line-up the M’s can field has Clement behind the plate, Griffey at DH, and Endy Chavez in LF, so hopefully that’s the one they end up with on most days.

2) Ichiro is turning 35 and has been the picture of consistency for his 8 Mariner years – 157+ games, 31+ SB, and .300+ AVG.  Any reason to suspect he may slow down or break down in 2009?

Ichiro is a machine when it comes to stretching and keeping his body in shape.  There’s a reason he never gets hurt – he keeps his body in top physical shape, and he really has the physical skills of a 24-year-old.  His speed hasn’t declined at all, and there’s no evidence of him losing any of his past abilities.  Ichiro’s one of the most sure things in baseball.

3)  Whom do you think has the better year – F-Her or Jean-Luc Bedard?  Do you think Brendan Morrow clears 140 IP?

I think I’m just going to reject the F-Her nickname entirely.  King Felix will have a better year than Bedard.  And no, I don’t think Morrow will go over 140 IP – the organization will be careful with him, and with guys like Rowland-Smith, Olson, and Vargas kicking around, they have some decent arms who could be used to let him skip some starts from time to time.

4) Whom do you think will emerge as the closer?  Mark LoweMiguel Batista? David Aardsma? Mike Schooler?  (note: asked before the Chad Cordero signing)

Mark Lowe is the favorite, mainly because his change-up gives him a weapon against LHPs.  Batista, Tyler Walker, and Roy Corcoran are all more suited to being RH specialists.  Aardsma has the stuff if his command takes a big leap forward, but that’s probably a long shot.  So, Lowe’s the best bet for saves, but I wouldn’t count on anyone getting more than 20.

5) Which Mariners’ set of moves begged for the most inevitable outcome:

a) 2005′s monster contracts for Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre = disappointments in proportion to their height

Beltre hasn’t been a disappointment at all.  He’s a star, and probably the most underrated player in the game right now.  If anything, he’s underpaid.

b) 2008′s signings of Erik Bedard + Carlos Silva = sub-VORP pitching due to Bedard’s injuries and Silva’s health

Silva’s health wasn’t a big problem last year – the M’s defense was just a disaster, and putting a pitch to contact starter in front of that group of defenders was just not going to work.

(note: ‘Silva’s health’ was a poorly phrased joke.  I was inferring that he provided sub-VORP pitching because of his lack of injuries – i.e., he’s a below average pitcher)

c) 2009′s signings of Don Wakamatsu (coach) + Ken Griffey Jr. = severe hamstring injury during pre-game calisthenics

If the M’s can limit Griffey to mostly DH’ing, he should be able to stay relatively healthy.

  1. Joe S. says:
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    I can’t believe i’m watching the worldwide misleader’s fantasy special this is horrible. Berry makes Karabell look like a genius, he just said and I quote “I love Shin Soo Choo, I’ve done everything but propose to him. He’s still banging the Cabrera drum too “I think he’s gonna have a great year”. Way to go out on a limb Mr. Dundee

  2. Joe S. says:
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    Oh and thanks for the interview Rudy Im big on a few M’s SP in a K heavy league good to know they wont push Morrow

  3. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:
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    “Beltre hasn’t been a disappointment at all. He’s a star, and probably the most underrated player in the game right now. If anything, he’s underpaid.”

    U.S.S. Mariner, please elaborate.

  4. Wow, this guy is about as humorful as a pile of leaves.

  5. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    @Baron Von Vulturewins: I think he’s talking about his defense. As a complete player, he’s one of the best 3B in the game and should be paid as such.

    Quick selfish question for anyone listening… If you had this shitpile to pick from at the end of a draft, which would you choose? Adam Jones, Chris Ray, Jair Jurrjens, Jason Motte, Ryan Spilbourghs, Dexter Fowler, Jordan Zimmerman? It’s a keeper league… Forget my needs, I just need to take the best avail. Ideas?

  6. JR says:
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    @Iowa: Jones.

  7. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    @JR: Those are my thoughts, too, but something about that Yahoo picture where he looks stoned makes me cautious. I just hope one of those other guys fall to me in the next round… (it’s a slow draft)

  8. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:
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    @IowaCubs: I’m actually curious. I know USS Mariner is a very well-respected site, so I assume there’s more to this argument. Though I will say upfront that it will take some pretty fancy sabermetric tap-dancing to convince me that Beltre is a star.

    Gold Gloves aside, when you sign someone coming off a .334/48/121 season, and that player fails to top either .270, 26 HR, or 90 RBIs in three of the next four years, he better be Brooks Robinson with four arms at the hot corner for me to think of him as an underrated star.

  9. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:
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    @IowaCubs: I second Jones.

  10. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    @Baron Von Vulturewins: Here’s a pretty good article that I found a while ago which describes Beltre’s value: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/can-we-please-stop-undervaluing-adrian-beltre

    Here’s a quote from that Fangraphs article by R.J. Anderson: “Defense is the part of Beltre’s game that people widely ignore or undervalue. Over the last four years Beltre has been worth an average of roughly 9 runs per season defensively. Add in those four runs of offense, a positional adjustment and 20 or so runs for replacement level and you have a 3.5-4 win player worth around 16 million on this market, but instead will only make 12 million next year.”

    I don’t think there’s much tapdancing going on here. Good defense + good offense + positional value = A player whose value exceeds that of his contract.

  11. Doc says:
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    F-Her, hah! That’s about relations isn’t it?

  12. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:
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    @IowaCubs: This is an excellent example of bad roto-value blinding me to real-world value.

    But to play Devil’s advocate, this, to my eye, is also the epitome of sabermetric tap-dancing:

    “Belte’s career on-base percentage is .327 with a career walk rate of 7.3%. During his time in Seattle Beltre has posted OBPs and walk rates of: .303, .328, .319, .327, and 5.9%, 7%, 6%, and 8.3%. Average those out however you like and you’re essentially getting Beltre’s career totals.”

    And there you go, Seattle fans! Your $64 million’s worth!

    Also, I think it’s slightly disingenuous, or at least misleading, when people use three- or four-year-old contracts (Beltre signed for 5 years, $64 million in 2005) and compare them to current contracts to prove the player is a bargain. At the time, this was a huge contract. Salaries rise very quickly in sports, so perhaps the Mariners can be lauded for anticipating that a $12 million-a-year glove man would be a slight bargain by 2009 valuations.

    But I would have loved to be at the press conference in 2005 where the M’s announced, “We’ve just signed Adrian Beltre for $64 million, and we’re looking forward to five years of 25 homers, an average hovering around .260, and excellent glove work.”

  13. @Baron Von Vulturewins: Ha! That would’ve been an awesome press conference. I think IowaCubs did a great job of explaining USS Mariner’s position on Beltre being a bargain (incidentally, Dave Cameron writes for both USS Mariner and FanGraphs).

    My labeling him as a ‘bust’ follows your train of thought – his hitting (and roto value) has to be considered at least a slight disappointment given his breakout year prior to the contract. But Dave @ USSMariner actually is a baseball blogger (vs. a fantasy baseball blogger) and has a broader perspective of value. Given that Beltre is paid for baseball value vs. fantasy baseball value, I’ll mea culpa on claiming Beltre to be a bust.

    As for the point that Silva was the victim of bad defense….not sure I buy that. I think he’d need a defense similar to the OF at a home run derby to make his ERA/WHIP worthy of a $10MM contract.

  14. sean says:
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    From a non-fantasy angle, I wonder if this year M’s team will be the 90-win team that folks were touting last year. Sometimes it works like that…

  15. @sean: I think that’s possible if MLB moves to a 190 game schedule.

  16. bpasinko says:
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    In a fantasy sense Beltre’s been a total bust, unless you count zone rating and positional adjustments in your league.

    So he was obviously answering it from a real baseball perspective, and quite frankly I don’t disagree with him.

    3b is sneaky shallow, and Beltre’s a good player, and non Roto stats certainly make Beltre better than he seems in real baseball, but looking at that contract fantasy wise it’s definitely a bust.

  17. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    @Baron Von Vulturewins: @Rudy Gamble: Excellent points, but I could essentially make the same argument for Aramis Ramirez’s 5 years/$75M, in that he won’t possibly make up enough true value for the amount of money he’s paid in comparison to Alfonso Soriano’s 8 years/$136M. That’s baseball.

  18. JR says:
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    @Iowa: We do not speak of the 8/136!

  19. cubbies299 says:
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    Trade 1:
    I trade Devine for Ibanez
    Trade 2:
    I trade Ibanez, Price, and Kouz for Aramis

    Which do you take?

  20. cubbies299 says:
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    ahhh crap trade 2 no longer an option. How many saves do we think Devine gets (in a holds league). I know devine to net ibanez is good, but i’m hesitant because he’s lights out if he gets the job).

  21. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @cubbies299: Devine for Ibanez is fine. He’s always injured and in the end SAGNOF, it’s only saves, man.

  22. big o says:
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    @Rudy Gamble:
    F-Her is fine .
    ain’t no king about him .

    sky king .
    elvis was king .
    south of the red river , bob wills is still the king . (waylon jennings).
    eddie feiner was the king (and his court).
    even yul brynner was king .
    and , of course , king crimson .

    F-Her
    F-Him
    he ain’t no king .

    would have been more interested to see you answer your own questions .

    “wouldn’t count on anyone getting more than 20 (saves)”
    …. no shizz , shakespeare …. the club’s struggling to win 63 games .

  23. Freak says:
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    I agree with big o, fher has done nothing to earn the name of king. Fher will remain.

  24. Johnny says:
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    Hef-R is really man-handling the Royals today.

    6 IP and 7 Runs, but on the good side only giving up 12 hits to that lethal offence.

  25. Sky says:
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    So, given the Cordero signing, does he close? Is Aardsma still worth a flier in a deep AL-only league?

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