The Mariners signed Guillermo Pimentel on Thursday, effectively stealing him from the Rangers , it may have proved that the Mariners aren’t committed, at least not to the hell or high water extent that the previous members of front office were, to their own specialized recipe for success, defense in this case.
Actually, perhaps the proper characterization is that the team has actually acquired a philosophy and stopped hiding from the evolution of baseball scouting.
Because you see, philosophy isn’t black and white by definition. The Mariners have shown adaptability this year, and an apparent shift in organizational emphasis. The previous regime seemed committed to using veterans, often high priced, generally with power and little regard for the strike zone in the batter’s box, or gimmicks on the mound.
Between Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre, Carlos Silva, Erik Bedard, and Kenji Johjima nearly every paradigm for success in the early 1900’s is represented.
When they decided to start Endy Chavez and employ three centerfielders in their outfield, I was skeptical. While Chavez is an interesting player at the plate, he’s far from what this team needed more of, soft hitting speedsters.
But the extra balls he got to that Raul Ibanez wouldn’t have helped make up for Ibanez departure. But Chavez got hurt, and the Mariners seemed to have no choice but to play Wladimir Balentien, a product of the Bill Bavasi regime.
They acquired Ryan Langerhans, a patient lefty with some power, some range in the outfield, and a solid contact bat. Langerhans will probably be absent from every All Star game for the rest of his career, but an Ibanez like career at the plate isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
The team has since replaced Chavez’s defensive prowess at a minimal cost and another position. Chris Woodward playing third should help to spare the team some losses defensively while Adrian Beltre recovers.
But Beltre wasn’t hitting, and at least for now, Woodward is. So the team’s added offense with minimal loss on defense in Langerhans, and Woodward’s task to maintain the poor hitting from Beltre up until his injury, it is possible that the team is a better overall team, despite no long-term answer for Beltre’s loss.
Then, by bringing Pimentel on board, the team made it clear that while a solid defense is a nice luxury, it is far from the sole contributor to overall success.
Bleeding Blue and Teal noted an article from Prospect Insider which criticized teams for spending less money during the draft in order to sign apparently more risky international prospects. I take issue however, with the notion that these players are more risky.
While conventional wisdom and individual anecdotes note that cultural differences could cause less players to achieve their potential from the international pool.
Players are younger coming from the international ranks, and athletic projections are also on the plates of international scouts. It’s hard to tell what a 16-year-old will look like in the bigs.
But from 2001-03, a range of draftees drafted between 6-8 years ago, there have been 47 first round and sandwich round draftees who haven’t stepped on a major league field, let alone contributed.
Dozens of others took a cup of coffee or disappointing tenure and either returned to the minors, or continue to disappoint at the big league level.
Besides, there wasn’t a surplus of power left-handed bats in this year’s draft. Dustin Ackley aside, there wasn’t a lefty with a set position and a good plate approach available. Actually, Ackley’s only included because I assume that he’ll be able to make the transition to either left or center field, though he played first base last season after Tommy John surgery.
However, Ackley’s signing bonus will probably be at least three times that of Pimentel.
Spending $2 million on an unproven commodity is far from ideal, but in this case, the Mariners were able to add somebody unique to their farm system. Something that they didn’t have an opportunity to acquire elsewhere.