CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe
<< Previous Article
Premium Article Skewed Left: A Coopers... (12/12)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (12/12)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (12/13)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Sev... (12/13)

December 12, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Pound 2

by Sam Miller and Ben Carsley

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.

a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.


American League
National League

Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Signed 1B/RF-R Corey Hart for one year with a reported base salary of $6 million, with incentives that could add $7 million more. [12/11]

Acquired 1B/OF-L Logan Morrison from Miami Marlins in exchange for RHP Carter Capps. [12/11]

In making the case last year that we should be amazed by Buster Posey the player but not Buster Posey the comeback, we ran this table showing position players since 2001 who had missed a full season and come back. Their TAvs before are on the left, TAvs after on the right:

TAv Before Player TAv after
0.208 Cristian Guzman 0.308
0.212 Jason Castro 0.258
0.239 Tim Salmon 0.290
0.248 Kelly Johnson 0.285
0.250 Mark Ellis 0.307
0.252 Jayson Werth 0.302
0.260 Willy Aybar 0.257
0.261 Rocco Baldelli 0.288
0.264 Alex Gonzalez 0.220
0.285 Mo Vaughn 0.279
0.309 Kendry Morales 0.303
0.322 Nick Johnson 0.312
0.263 Aaron Boone 0.244

Caveats then, which are still applicable, and conclusions then, which are also still applicable: “That chart oversimplifies things: some of these players’ pre- TAvs might have been artificially low because of untreated severe injuries; some of the effects of the injuries might have shown up in the longer term; the parameters narrowly exclude Jesus Flores, whose recovery from a foul-tip shoulder injury has been depressing; etc. But at least it gives us a very general guide to ballplayer injuries: they suck, they take a while to heal, they can go bad, but they don’t, as a general rule, cost players their talent.”

Hart certainly had talent, particularly the sort of talent that you expect some GM to overpay for in the Great Power Panic of 2013. Consider the following lines from 2010 to 2012:

  • Corey Hart: .279/.343/.514
  • Granderson: .247/.337/.506

Now consider their 2013 seasons: One missed the entire year. The other missed two-thirds of the year, and when he played he hit his average fly ball 10 feet shorter and lost 80 points of isolated power. The injuries are different, but both have risk—Hart might never play a month straight again, but hand injuries can sap power for years. Grant a win or so of difference on defense + baserunning, but acknowledge that a seemingly smart front office gave the second guy four years and $60 million and be impressed that the seemingly dysfunctional front office scored the first guy for one year and just $5 million guaranteed. Without seeing Hart’s medical records—lol like I'd be able to conclude anything from Hart’s medical records—it looks like a pretty slick bargain in a world where inferior imitations are asking for $7 million and more comparable imitations cost 10 service years of mid- or bottom-of-the-rotation starters. He slots in perfectly at DH, where there won’t be as much stress on his knees and where his declining defense can retire to the country. Swell job by the messed up front office. A rose that grew from concrete!

Now that the Mariners have made their obligatory Dingers move, they can move on to other needs, like a rangy right fielder and somebody to throw strikes in the rotation and-- aw, crud, Morrison too?

Morrison, like Hart, plays corner outfield and first base and he plays them all poorly. How poorly is a matter of dispute, and goes a long way to determining whether you think he’s a replacement level player (as on B-Ref and FanGraphs, where his defense grades out at -36 and -50 over the course of his 363-game career) or nearly average (as you’ll find here, where he’s merely a -8 defender for his career). These sorts of clashes are never easy to resolve—as Colin Wyers once argued, bigger sample sizes might just calcify the misassumptions in each system—but if defensive metrics are immature they’re probably not incorrectly labeling plus defenders -50 defenders. Morrison’s glove certainly sucks.

You’ve identified a problem: Morrison and Hart can’t both play DH, so one will be on the field, and not even at first base (presumably), where Justin Smoak is coming off something of a breakout year (though his defensive metrics argue for DH duty, too).

While Hart was sitting out 2013, Morrison’s bat was. After putting up a 119 OPS+ from age 22-23 -- narrowly ahead of Jay Bruce, Matt Kemp and Jason Heyward -- Morrison’s power disappeared in 2012. Still, his .236/.321/.387 line in those seasons would have actually been better than the median for AL designated hitters last year, which is very faint praise but also means Michael Morse won’t be back.

So how does this play out? If Smoak doesn’t get traded for pitching, then it presumably goes like this: Hart plays right field as much as he can; Morrison plays right field as much as Hart can’t; and the Mariners have used up all the positions on the field to update their offense. There’s still a long offseason ahead, and there’s still a lot of years left for the Mariners to win something with this core. But, though Hart and Morrison make them better than they were this morning, it’s a pretty unambitious way to upgrade two very upgradeable positions. —Sam Miller


Logan Morrison

It didn’t really matter where Morrison ended up this offseason; it just mattered that he got out of Miami. While Safeco isn’t the hitter’s have we could’ve hoped for, it’s still much friendlier to left-handed power than is Marlins Stadium. Morrison will now also bat in a lineup with other real, live MLB players, and should have ample opportunity to score and drive in runs.

Next season is probably Morrison’s last chance in fantasy circles. Neither his 2012 nor his 2013 was terribly encouraging, but any modicum of BABIP luck should at least ensure that Morrison gets on base, and he still projects to hit 20-plus homers if given 500 PA. Overall, Morrison’s value as a Mariner is higher than it was as a Marlin, even if he’s more at risk of losing playing time down the road if he fails to produce.

Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero

It’s tough to properly rate these guys right now, but the M’s have certainly put a dent in the potential playing time of each player with the acquisitions of Morrison and Corey Hart. Smoak appears most likely to retain playing time for now, with Hart manning DH and Morrison heading to left field. Yet if the former top prospect struggles, it’s not difficult to envision a scenario in which Hart moves to first and Montero gets another crack at the DH job. If you’re hanging on to either of these players in a dynasty league—and let’s face it, some of you are—you need to feel a little worse about your odds of seeing these guys break out in 2014. Ben Carsley

Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Acquired RHP Carter Capps from Seattle Mariners in exchange for Logan Morrison. [12/11]

A classic FIP/xFIP disagreement: By the former, Capps went from a closer-quality rookie (2.15 FIP) to a complete mess (4.73) in his sophomore year. By the latter, he was indistinguishable: 3.47 to 3.56. You get to decide how much you think a pitcher's abnormal HR/FB rates in small samples are meaningful.

Capps allowed 10 of his 12 home runs on a four-seamer that averages 96 mph with significant movement. His whiff rate on the pitch stayed steady, as did his velocity, as did his strike rate, and his groundball rate actually improved. And yet somehow one in five of those fly balls went over the fence last year, resulting in a .615 slugging percentage. According to Hit Tracker, only four of the 12 were “just enoughs,” so he wasn’t allowing cheapies.

Capps is relatively new to pitching still, he’s got a funky motion from a long frame, and his command was a problem even when he was dominant. And all that up and you can understand why the Mariners sent him back to Triple-A to find his center again:

“Carter has got to get his emotions under control on the mound, gather himself and not overthrow,” Stearns said. “He’s doing that a little bit. Terry Clark (Rainiers pitching coach) and I, we are going to work with him and turn this thing around.”

In other words, it’s far too simple to say that the home runs were just bad luck and he’ll revert to the mean. Still, if the going rate for an obnoxious first baseman who hits worse than the league average with Adam Dunn’s defense and an approaching arbitration payday is a raw relief arm coming off a terrible year, then the Marlins probably got the right raw relief arm coming off a terrible year.

Sam Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sam's other articles. You can contact Sam by clicking here
Ben Carsley is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

9 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Skewed Left: A Coopers... (12/12)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (12/12)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (12/13)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Sev... (12/13)

Fantasy Article Closer Report: Week 21
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of August 21
What You Need to Know: 88-35
Short Relief: The Wonderful Vulgarity of Mia...
Premium Article Notes from the Field: August 22, 2017
Premium Article Rubbing Mud: They Might Be Rebuilding
Liner Notes: Kenny, Boomer, Bobo, and the Ho...

Premium Article Skewed Left: A Cooperstown Party Like it's 1...
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: How Great Thou Bart
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: More Morton
Premium Article Minor League Update: International Winter Le...
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Mixed-League Pitcher Valu...

2014-01-06 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Team Preview: Boston Red Sox
2013-12-16 - BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 3...
2013-12-13 - BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 3...
2013-12-12 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Pound 2
2013-12-12 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: More Morton
2013-12-12 - BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 3...
2013-12-11 - BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 3...

2013-12-16 - Transaction Analysis: Omar Comin'
2013-12-16 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Lone(y) Wolf
2013-12-13 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Inspecting Morse
2013-12-12 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Pound 2
2013-12-12 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: How Great Thou Bart
2013-12-12 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: More Morton
2013-12-11 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Mark Trumbo Gets the N...