What Do You See?

When you look at the following graph, what is your initial reaction?


Now, take that reaction and add the following information:

1. Catcher
2. Turns 32 years old in two weeks
3. Right handed pull hitter, your team plays in a park that hates right handed pull hitters

Okay, now, let’s go through the formula. If you take Initial Reaction + Position Knowledge + Age + Park Suitability and your conclusion is Contract Extension, congratulations, you’re qualified to work for the Mariners. They just extended Kenji Johjima through the 2011 season. Johjima’s a solid player and has been a real asset since arriving from Japan, but the timing of this move seems odd. Top prospect Jeff Clement is tearing the cover off the ball in Tacoma, and while his defense is underwhelming, the team could really use a left handed bat in the line-up. Extending Johjima ensures that Clement will be moving to first base or designated hitter, reducing his value to the club and taking away the chance to balance the line-up.

The Mariners just continue to fail to learn lessons from their past mistakes. The organization consistently gives overly long contracts to replaceable declining veterans, then gets surprised when those guys don’t perform at their career averages. I’m sure they’ll be stunned in several years when Carlos Silva and Johjima are struggling and eating up a good portion of the payroll along with premium roster spots.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Tom Au
Tom Au

Aren’t the Mariners the team that hired Adrian Beltre for more than Dodgers were willing to pay after Paul de Podesta let him go? And didn’t Beltre’s numbers fall off a cliff in 2005 after his supposedly breakout year in 2004? (Although, in his case, it may have been a matter of his being “too young,” rather than too old.)

Comparisons vary from year to year, but it seems like Jeff Kent (who essentially replaced Beltre in the line-up) has posted better numbers and WPAs since 2005; while working for over $2 million a year less. Even though he’s “old,” Kent is often compared to the legendary Pirate Willie Stargell through age 39.