Tag: Jason Vargas

Jason Vargas Injury: Updates on Royals P’s Flexor and Return

Kansas City Royals left-hander Jason Vargas has landed on the disabled list for the second time this season due to an elbow injury. 

Continue for updates. 

Vargas Strains Flexor Muscle

Saturday, June 13

According to the Royals’ official Twitter feed, Vargas has a left flexor strain, and the team will bring up Brandon Finnegan from Triple-A to take his spot:

Vargas missed three weeks in May with the same injury. Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reported on May 8 that the injury can serve as a “precursor for Tommy John surgery” because the flexor muscle protects the ulnar collateral ligament, but he was able to return for three starts after coming off the DL. 

In his most recent outing on June 8, Vargas pitched well against the Minnesota Twins, with six shutout innings in a 3-1 win.  

Finnegan does have MLB experience, appearing in seven regular-season games last year and five so far in 2015. The Royals have used Finnegan as a starter and reliever in the minors, as he’s made five starts in nine appearances. He does give manager Ned Yost options to play with as he reworks his rotation without Vargas. 

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Los Angeles Angels’ Offseason Shopping List

When it comes to acquisitions this offseason, don’t expect the Los Angeles Angels to act like an organization planning for an episode of Supermarket Sweep.

After a long season riddled with injury, pitching issues, and lack of production from high-priced pieces in Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols, we know the team will certainly look to restructure from a 78-84 record.

But a winning formula won’t involve rushing around the offseason market, attempting to fill the proverbial shopping cart with expensive, top-tier players. 

It can’t, actually.

From a tax threshold perspective, that’s not the kind of reality afforded to this team—not when they are still on the hook for past moves like Vernon Wells (18 million), present moves like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton ($71 million total) and questionable tie-ins for next season like Joe Blanton ($8.5 million).

Instead, with $125 million already on the books for next season, the Angels’ offseason shopping list will be more of the money-saving variety, filled with smart moves that may not make a huge splash among the media, but will help the team progress into next season and after that.

Problem is, though, we still aren’t 100-percent sure who will be orchestrating this new cost-controlled method, or overseeing any of the looming arbitration.

The Angels’ season wasn’t even a day past old before we started to see the question of the Angels’ offseason pop up:


As it stands today, any such drastic and quick-to-the-point actions by Arte Moreno toward either Jerry Dipoto or Mike Scioscia have not happened. And I’m still on board with keeping both of them next season, giving more attention to development and less to moves that will waste time due to acclimation this winter.

However, I don’t think my opinion is of the majority out there.

If there were a change, then, oddly enough, the first category on the Angels’ list would have to be names of free agent GMs and managers.

But the list would not be equal parts.

Managers, at least the kind that could handle Moreno, aren’t really in abundance. And Joe Girardi isn’t coming to Anaheim via New York. Simple enough.

So by default, and a lot of cash left on his contract, Scioscia looks to be safe. Or, at least, safer.

Jerry Dipoto? Well…


The real interest should come from the GM position, in my mind, and now ex-Marlins GM Larry Beinfest.

Though nothing has been whipped up yet, the idea of Beinfest replacing Dipoto—the more expendable of the two sacrifice candidates—is a possibility.

(The interesting thing: Much like the Dipoto/Scioscia head-butting, I have read that Beinfest had similar issue in Florida.)

Either way, we should expect to see more and more of the dysfunction—the behind-the-scenes drama played out in front of the cameras. And, of course, a verdict from Moreno.

After that, it’s all about the pitching—yep, baseball stuff, I know…very cool.

The Angels’ pitching staff did have the unfortunate obstacle of injury throughout the season. Players who were brought in to help the bullpen—Sean Burnett and Ryan Madsondidn’t have the impact the Angels expected simply because of health, and the rotation suffered setbacks seemingly every month too.

Jered Weaver, the one arm that needed to be healthy for the rotation to have a chance, suffered a broken elbow.

Jason Vargas, a complement to C.J. Wilson as a left-handed option had a blood clot in his armpit, and his fellow first-year Angels pitcher Tommy Hanson had both on-field and off-field circumstances.

It was a mess, no question. And sometimes, when there has been such a string of bad timing, the question then becomes: What if?

What if the rotation stayed healthy?

What if the bullpen stayed healthy?

There is nothing wrong with that feeling, either.

When you look at some of the improvements from Garrett Richards in the rotation, the continued growth of Ernesto Frieri as a closer and the ability of relievers Dane De La Rosa and Michael Kohn, things aren’t as dire as one might expect.

When Jerry Dipoto addressed the media, he sounded like he had confidence in some of the current options on the 2013 Angels’ roster:

There’s a championship core there. And now we have to figure out, amongst ourselves, as we collaborate throughout the offseason, what are the moves that we can make that will improve this.

Improving on a tight budget? It can be done (see 2013 playoff-bound teams).

Sure, it would be nice if things could fit into a category like Chevy Chase’s rubber gloves in Fletch (he leased them, with an option to buy). But that isn’t the case for the Angels, unfortunately, so the team will have to be extremely delicate with each decision.

Vargas, the one and only free-agent option, is second on the list behind a manager or GM—if applicable.

The left-hander showed decent stuff this season, with a curveball that actually improved the life (the look of it, at least) of his fastball.

He wasn’t completely strong following the blood clot that sidelined him this summer—he went 3-4 with a 4.60 ERA in his final 10 starts, ending at 9-8 with a 4.02 mark—but lefties are always a commodity when it comes to offseason moves, making Vargas an intriguing free agent.

It also makes him expensive—too expensive for the Angels?


I imagine the team will attempt to negotiate with Vargas, though it’s doubtful they will have the flexibility to offer the $14 million before Vargas hits the market.

That leaves only the unknown—something manager Mike Scioscia knows is difficult:

Free agency gets complicated. There’s no doubt that he’s given our rotation a boost as he’s come back into it from being injured. You’d love to see him in an Angel uniform, but we’ve been through this before. You just never know how free agency works out.

If Vargas does fall through it’s not the end of the world. The Angels have other options to acquire cost-controlled arms through trades and even the international market.

The latter of the two sheds light on an interesting story: The Angels, a team that has not exactly been an international presence in the past, reportedly will bid for the service of 24-year-old Masahiro Tanaka of Japan.

Though his posting fee, as LA Times’ Mike Giovanna explains, would be around $25 million, none of that cash would go toward the luxury tax threshold ($189 million).

Tanaka, then, could be the best game-ready, cost-controlled arm—assuming the Angels would be enticing enough to win the bidding war. That, like everything else in the offseason, is still an unknown.

If that doesn’t play out in favor of the Angels, the option would be to trade a player or package a deal of players for pitching.

This scenario will sting a bit.

As I had previously written, Mark Trumbo stands as the best chip for the Angels. His bat and youth are certainly worth a quality, young arm.

The Pirates had reportedly shown interest in him around the trade deadline, but nothing came of it. (In light of their current playoff position, I am not sure the Pirates would be willing to part with an arm like prospect Jameson Taillon now like they would have then.)

The option will need to be explored by the Angels, though. Whether favorable or not, the spending ceiling the Angels have only allows for so much wiggle room.

Trumbo will help alleviate some of that pressure. And, because of the progress of Kole Calhoun and the hope of Albert Pujols returning to form next season, Trumbo is actually an expendable player.

Not happy about that? I get it.

The next option would be to throw Howie Kendrick into the discussion.

The veteran second baseman was on his way to a really solid season before the leg injury that caused him to miss most of the final month.


Out of that situation, however, came Grant Green—who has the ability to take over the second base role next season.

That leaves Kendrick, like Trumbo, in sort of an expendable position. If he can’t be moved in a one-for-one type trade, then perhaps a package deal—with the likes of Peter Bourjos, J.B. Shuck, Kole Calhoun, Kevin Jepsen, etc.—could get done.

Again, there isn’t a real certainty there. The Blue Jays reportedly had interest in Kendrick at the trade deadline (and after), but the Angels were not willing to negotiate.

With the Blue Jays current debacle, I wouldn’t think their biggest priority would be landing Howie Kendrick. Like the Angels, I would imagine it’s more about pitching, pitching, and more pitching.

Isn’t that true for every team, though? Pitching is key.

Mike Scioscia explained that (per Mike DiGiovanna):

If you look at any team that wins, they’re pretty good at controlling the game on the defensive end. And that begins with your rotation.

Sounds like 2012 going into 2013, doesn‘t it?

It’s like a bad joke: Pete and Repeat walk into a room. Pete leaves. Who’s left? Repeat.

The Angels need pitching…again.

They need rotation help…again.

Taking another crack at solidifying the bullpen won’t hurt either…again.

And when you really dissect the entire offseason maneuvering, the Angels shopping list is actually less of a list and more like one post-it note.

P.S: “Don’t forget to pick up some pitching while you are out.”


Note: All stats provided were courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

Follow Rick Suter on Twitter@rick_suter



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MLB Trade Rumors: Hottest Weekend Waiver Wire Buzz

As of August 30, 16 major league teams either hold a playoff spot or are within 6.5 games of one and could be looking to improve their playoff chances by making a waiver-wire deal by tomorrow’s deadline to add players who will be eligible for a playoff roster.

Eleven August trades have happened thus far:

  • The Texas Rangers acquired outfielder Alex Rios from the Chicago White Sox for prospect Leury Garcia.
  • The Kansas City Royals picked up utility infielder Jamey Carroll from the Minnesota Twins and utility man Emilio Bonifacio from the Toronto Blue Jays, both for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays acquired lefty reliever Wesley Wright from the Houston Astros for cash considerations.
  • The Washington Nationals acquired outfielder David DeJesus from the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later.
  • The Oakland A’s acquired catcher Kurt Suzuki and cash from the Nationals for minor league pitcher Dakota Bacus.
  • The Rays acquired outfielder David DeJesus from the Nationals for a player to be named later or cash considerations. 
  • The Pirates acquired catcher John Buck and outfielder Marlon Byrd from the Mets for minor league second baseman Dilson Herrera and reliever Vic Black.
  • The Indians acquired outfielder Jason Kubel from the Diamondbacks for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
  • The Cardinals acquired reliever John Axford from the Brewers for a player to be named later.
  • The Orioles acquired first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse from the Mariners for outfielder Xavier Avery.

With a few trade possibilities still lingering, here’s all of the latest waiver-trade buzz from around the league.


Nationals Resurgence Taking Dan Haren Off the Market?

As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported earlier in the week, there hasn’t been strong interest in Nationals right-hander Dan Haren, who has a 2.53 ERA in his past 53 innings pitched. But could it be that the Nats just aren’t that interested in dealing him now that they’ve closed to within striking distance of a wild-card spot. 

With 14 wins in their past 19 games, the Nats have improved their record to 68-65. While they’ve gained just 2.5 games in the wild-card standings over that span—they’ve moved from nine back to six-and-a-half back—it’s close enough to where it’s a realistic possibility. After failing to live up to very lofty expectations all season long, trading one of their best starting pitchers at a time when things are finally clicking on all cylinders just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.


Red Sox Could Add Bullpen Help

Tim Britton of the Providence Journal notes that the Red Sox could use another right-handed reliever. While manager John Farrell says he’s not too concerned—Ryan Dempster, who was the Cubs‘ closer from 2005-2007, will likely move to the bullpen once Clay Buchholz returns from the disabled list—it sounds like he’s at least open to a deal if one made sense. 

Junichi Tazawa, who is currently the lone right-handed setup man in the Sox’s bullpen—Matt Thornton and Craig Breslow are the primary left-handed options—has had a terrific season (2.75 ERA, 59 IP, 9 BB, 63 K, 20 holds) but has allowed runs in consecutive appearances.

The 27-year-old has bounced back from bad outings before, which is why he’s starting to be considered one of the top setup men in the league, but it would benefit the Sox to have another right-hander late in games to face tough right-handed hitters.

One option could be Matt Lindstrom (pictured), who would be the third White Sox player to be acquired by Boston this season—Thornton and Jake Peavy are the others. The 33-year-old right-hander, who cleared waivers earlier in the month, is holding right-handed batters to a .588 OPS. Overall, he has a 3.04 ERA with 17 holds and only one homer allowed in 53.1 innings.  


The Justin Morneau Watch

It appeared that Justin Morneau (pictured) was giving the Twins a very nice going-away present in the form of an increased trade value after he started the month with 27 hits in 89 at-bats (.303 BA), including seven homers, seven doubles and 19 runs batted in. That value might have deflated some, however, during his current 1-for-23 slump. 

Small samples usually don’t sway a player’s value one way or another during the season, but when a team is making a trade specifically for a small sample of the season—in this case, it would be about 30 games and possibly the playoffs—it would make sense to acquire a player when he’s on a hot streak. 

On the other hand, Morneau’s price tag could’ve dropped just enough for a team like the Pirates to swoop in and pick him up for the stretch run without giving up any prospect of significance or taking on much of his remaining salary. The Bucs have shown interest in the past, and Rosenthal recently tweeted that they may be one team that is currently interested. 

Two teams that may have been interested—Baltimore and Cleveland—can probably be ruled out of the mix after they recently acquired Michael Morse and Jason Kubel, respectively. 


Other Last-Minute Trade Possibilities

A few interesting names that haven’t popped up in the rumor mill, mostly due to these players being on the disabled list until recently, are Angels starter Jason Vargas and Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez. 

Vargas, who has made four starts since returning from a disabled list stint due to a blood clot in his armpit, has allowed just one earned run over 13.1 innings over his past two starts. The 30-year-old lefty was placed on waivers on August 19, according to Rosenthal, but there was no word on whether he cleared or not. 

The likelihood is that he did pass through unclaimed, given his salary (still due close to $1.5 million) and the fact that he didn’t pitch well in his first two outings (9.2 IP, 7 ER) after returning. If this is the case, contending teams looking to upgrade their rotation will be interested in striking a deal by tomorrow, especially after what he did versus the Rays on Thursday (7 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 3 BB, 7 K).

In the case of Gutierrez, there is no question that he is a huge injury risk, so giving up any prospect or taking on any salary will be viewed as a questionable decision. But in between all the time he’s spent on the disabled list this season, he’s been a very productive hitter and has always been good against left-handed pitching (.833 career OPS vs LHP), in particular. His three-hit performance on Thursday, which included his second homer in two games, could open some eyes. 

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported in early July that teams were calling about the 30-year-old, although he was out at the time and ended up missing more than two months with a hamstring injury before returning on Monday.

If a contending team is willing to take a chance and the M’s will pick up some of the remaining $1.5 million in salary (approximately $1 million in 2013, $500K buyout in 2014), Gutierrez could be a difference-maker for a contending team down the stretch.  

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Atlanta Braves: Starting Pitchers the Braves Should Be Targeting

With less than 72 hours remaining before the trade deadline, the Atlanta Braves are not having much luck when it comes to adding a starter to their rotation. They thought they landed Ryan Dempster from the Cubs, but Dempster was able to veto that deal. Since then Zack Greinke and Wandy Rodriguez were each dealt and Matt Garza got hurt.

That leaves high-priced options like James Shields and Josh Johnson as the top pitchers on the market, and both of those guys have been struggling this year. Francisco Liriano is even more unpredictable and wouldn’t be much of an upgrade over the guys the Braves want to replace in the rotation.

This article takes a look at three guys the Braves should consider adding as a “plan B” after being unable to land one of the big guns without mortgaging the future. None of these guys will front a playoff rotation, but all would be an upgrade over the current back end of the rotation and will offer some consistency.

Begin Slideshow

Seattle Mariners: Projecting the 2012 Rotation

You hate to see a young stud pitcher like Michael Pineda go, but even with this loss, the Mariners’ 2012 rotation isn’t exactly in shambles.

Anytime Felix Hernandez is your ace pitcher, your rotation is going to be better than 40% of the teams in the league. Even if your other four pitchers are just average, you’re still going to have an above-average rotation with King Felix at the top.

Several new pitchers have arrived, including Japanese sensation Hisashi Iwakuma. 

With the departure of pitchers like Doug Fister, Erik Bedard, and Michael Pineda this 2012 rotation will look completely revamped.

Begin Slideshow

Seattle Mariners: Should Felix Hernandez or Another Starter Be Traded?

Even after extending Felix Hernandez, the Mariners were faced with speculation that they’d trade their ace at the beginning of 2011. In the past couple days there has been a ton of speculation in the media about the team trading Erik Bedard, Jason Vargas or Doug Fister.

The Mariners should trade one of these guys, if the package they get in return is right.

There are a ton of components that go into a decision to trade a starting pitcher, not the least of which is that starter’s talent. We talk a lot about years of team control, which is certainly important, but are years of team control as valuable for a pitcher, presumed to be a back-of-the-rotation starter, as perhaps a mid-to-upper-rotation starter?

Certainly not.

And in Bedard, Vargas and Fister, the team has guys who can easily be perceived by some teams as fits in any of their rotations slots.

Fister is a prime example of where years of team control hold less value. Fister is a guy who has ridden a low HR/FB ratio and lackluster peripherals to solid results. On talent alone, Fister is a pretty generic option in trade. He’s a poor man’s Kevin Millwood or Livan Hernandez. Sure, if a team traded for him, they’d have him under team control for four more years after 2012, but he’s a huge regression candidate, especially in a different home ballpark (4.16 FIP career on the road, compared to 3.81 at Safeco).

Even in Safeco, the chances of Fister’s high wire act continuing is pretty slim and could be pushed out of the rotation by present farmhands in the next couple years. If the Mariners can get something of greater value for Fister, they should jump at the opportunity. I’d look for someone like Seth Smith from Colorado or Drew Sutton from Boston.

The other two pitchers, Bedard and Vargas, probably haven’t reached the potential peak of their value yet. If either of them (or both!) keep pitching the way they are right now, a Cliff Lee-like package isn’t completely out of the question.

Bedard is probably the more talented pitcher. He has a viable breaking ball and a better fastball. His problems, obviously, center on his health. This may lead the team, or fans, to want to trade Bedard as soon as possible, since he’s a high injury risk, and an injury would destroy his value. However, because they’ve bought so low on the new version of Bedard, he seems like a solid value to keep around until at least the beginning of July. If he gets hurt the sunk costs are minimal, and if he’s healthy, his value is likely to be at its peak by then.

Besides health, Bedard’s limiting factor is his pending free agency. After missing all of last year, it’s unlikely that Bedard is a Type A or B free agent after this season, and there is no guarantee that he remains the kind of bargain he has been for the Mariners so far this season (obviously not in the past).

Vargas is perhaps the most volatile. Just two days ago I proposed that the Mariners should either attempt to extend Vargas now, or this upcoming offseason, or never.

Just like the Mariners are at a critical point for Vargas’ future with the team, they may be at a critical point for his future with another team. It makes sense for the team to explore a trade for him, but having a low-cost, under-30, effective pitcher in the rotation, makes a hell of a lot of sense too.

There isn’t a ton of precedent for trading a guy with two years of team control, who is recently effective after a career full of struggles. Maybe the best comparable is Bronson Arroyo, who after two solid-ish years in Boston, was traded to Cincinnati for Wily Mo Pena about two weeks before the 2006 season. Pena’s name may not inspire excitement, but he was a top hitting prospect, which is a pretty big return for a guy of that type.

Arroyo was a well-known member of the 2004 World Series champion Red Sox, an intangible asset (undoubtedly an overvalued one) that Vargas doesn’t have. However, Vargas has posted better season prior to that.

The Mariners should trade one of these guys if it can improve the offense. But, they shouldn’t trade Bedard or Vargas for anything but top prospects. While the market for starting pitchers is developing, it certainly isn’t fully developed, and the Mariners should wait to trade either of the latter, or they’ll be getting less than full value for the pitchers.


North and South of Royal Brougham offers articles like this, as well as articles about things like:


Michael Pineda’s need for a nickname

The Seattle Sounders

The Seattle Seahawks Quarterback situation

Gary Payton’s Love for Seattle

and last but not least

Nate Robinson’s tweets, and how Seattle fans should receive them

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Seattle Mariners Rotation: Does Jason Vargas Deserve a Long Term Extension?

Jason Vargas has pitched his butt off this year, or his boobs as one Jeff Sullivan may say (Vargas really does look like Phil Mickelson in a baseball jersey). Nevertheless, Vargas is amidst his best season by far to this point.

For the record, I started writing this during the pregame show and thought I’d hold off to make sure Vargas didn’t drop the ball last night. Instead, he went out and posted perhaps his best outing of the year, with apologies to his nine innings of shutout ball his last outing.

But the biggest questions that need asking when a player suddenly starts posting better results are: Why? And are the results sustainable?

When Jason Vargas came to Seattle in the J.J. Putz trade, he looked like a sub-Quad-A throw in. A guy who’d had some success in the minors, none in the majors, and below-average peripherals. He’d just missed the entire 2008 season with hip labrum surgery, and had lost velocity since his college days while failing to develop his off speed pitches.

Vargas struggled again in 2009, but then something changed. Vargas went from a guy who threw about 70 percent fastballs and 20 percent changeups to a guy who threw about 60 percent fastballs and 30 percent changeups. Though the results were better, the peripheral stats didn’t really show improvement in 2010. His 4.60 xFIP was nearly equal to his 2009 4.61 xFIP.

Truth be told, it seemed like the only change in Vargas’ game was where he played his home ones. That worked for the Mariners, obviously, as Vargas was cheap and effective. Even if he never fully developed his repertoire, he may be overvalued by some other team and could ultimately still have value to the Mariners in trade once his salary increased in arbitration.

Basically, by throwing the two pitches at that rate, he’d made the fastball a little worse in terms of results but gained it back two-fold on his changeup results. With that, Vargas had gone from being a passable Triple-A starter to an average-to-below-average major league starter who had above-average results.

But perhaps something has changed for Vargas. According to PITCHf/x, Vargas has introduced a cutter this season. This could mean a lot of things. Anecdotally, Vargas has been throwing a cutter for a lot longer. As PITCHf/x improves and evolves, their thresholds for certain pitches become more refined. However, Vargas came into the league as a fastball-slider guy, and PITCHf/x hasn’t shown him throwing a single slider all year. They do have him throwing his cutter 22.6 percent of the time, which even if it had replaced his slider on Pitchf/x (which is nearly equal velocity), is nearly triple the frequency as he’s ever thrown his slider.

Whatever it is, it has been far more effective to this point than either his fastball or slider have ever been, good for 2.75 runs above replacement for every 100 times he throws it.

Last night may be the ultimate display of keeping hitters off balance for Vargas, as he threw 34 four-seam fastballs, 33 cut-fastballs and 32 changeups. There was a total of 7.4 mph difference in average velocity, 3.6 between the four-seamer and the cutter and 3.8 between the cutter and the change.

What this has led to, in whatever capacity one believes, is that this year Vargas has struck out more hitters, kept more batted balls on the ground, while posting what amounts to a career-low in terms of walk rate.

So when considering an extension during arbitration years, the Mariners have a few tough questions to ask themselves: Is Jason Vargas as good as his results indicate? Will he be in two years? Is a prospective discount worth the risk of guaranteeing Vargas two or three years? How much of his success has to do with Safeco Field, and how replaceable is Vargas? And how have Vargas’ contemporaries fared on the free-agent market?

The first two answers are highly debatable and fluid in nature until when the Mariners truly examine Vargas’ viability.

The rest of them may be due for some perspective. Vargas is making $2.45 million this year, he’ll have two more years of team control when the year is done, including two more trips to arbitration. If we subscribe to the 20-40-60-80 rule, Vargas would be due about $3.5 million in arbitration with equal production to last year, but a better 2011, which appears likely, and he’ll be headed for a much greater pay day. If we assume that Vargas compiles a full season better than 2010, which is probably the only outcome that leads to an extension, he’d probably be looking at about $5 million.

If we presume an accelerated $5 million mark for the “60” portion of the value schedule, we can assume that he’d be looking at about $6.5 million in 2013, the year before his first shot at free agency. Last year, Vargas was worth 2.6 WAR, or $10.4 million according to Fangraphs. He appears to be en route to much greater value this year, already compiling 1.1 WAR in 2011. About a quarter of the way through the season so far, it isn’t inconceivable to see Vargas post four wins this year, which would put his value around $20 million. If that happened, presuming a three-year deal which would buy out Vargas’ arbitration years and one free-agent year, you’re probably be looking at a contract range of $15-25 million.

Is any part of that a comfortable range? Vargas has essentially been good for the past about 250 innings, with only about 60 coming with supporting peripherals.

One of the major criticisms of Vargas is how heavily aided he is by Safeco Field. He’s pitched well at the home-ball park and not so well on the road. Though this year’s splits are much less defined (in a tiny road sample), there may be reason to believe that the gap between Vargas’ home FIP and xFIP, as well as ERA, are sustainable, as it logically makes sense for Vargas’ HR/FB to stay low in the power-sapping Safeco Field.

The hardest thing for Vargas to sustain, and ultimately the deciding factor for the viability and size of an extension, is his success on the road. So far this year, Vargas has a 47.8 percent ground-ball rate on the road, compared to a 35.5 percent for his career. If the cutter is doing it, there is something presently-unquantifiable that the Mariners may be able to look on as a building block for future success, but if it isn’t when Vargas regresses back to his mean, and his newly-found increased ground-ball rate go away, so will his positive results.

There really hasn’t been a great market set for pitchers like Vargas’ in the past couple years. His low walk and strikeout total are unmatched by the likes of Ted Lilly, Randy Wolf and Jorge de la Rosa. Each averages more strikeouts and more walks, while being skewed toward a fly-ball propensity. Each entered actual free agency, which Vargas won’t see for two more years. And each signed a three-year contract worth close to $30 million.

The best comparable is Wandy Rodriguez. He finished his fifth year of service time last year, a year that saw him make $5 million after a four-win season, which followed a $2.6 million season that was sparked by a 2.6 win season. Rodriguez posted a 3.6 win season last year, and at the age of 32, with one more year of team control, signed a three-year, $34 million deal.

The Mariners have a very tough decision to make with Jason Vargas, and on smell test alone, he doesn’t seem to meet the $10-plus million per year price tag. So if the Mariners want to extend Vargas ever, they should do it this season or offseason, otherwise, they’ll be paying a premium for highly debatable value.



North and South of Royal Brougham offers articles like this, as well as articles about things like:


Michael Pineda’s need for a nickname

The Seattle Sounders

The Seattle Seahawks Quarterback situation

Gary Payton’s Love for Seattle

and last but not least

Nate Robinson’s tweets, and how Seattle fans should receive them

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Macklemore the Highlight as Jason Vargas, Mariners Disappoint in Home Opener

With the team headed to Safeco Field for the home opener against the Cleveland Indians Friday, hopes and expectations were high.

Sure, the M’s had won just two of their first six games. Sure, they had gone into Arlington and gotten their behinds handed to them by the Rangers.

But it was Opening Night, and somehow all was momentarily forgotten. Ichiro and King Felix were set to receive their awards in front of a sold-out crowd.

Local icon and rapper Macklemore performed his hit song, “My Oh My”, a lyrical tribute to the late broadcaster Dave Niehaus.

But boy, did the Mariners flop on Friday night. In what was one of their worst home openers in team history, the Mariners were thrashed by the Indians.

In the fourth inning, everything unraveled for Jason Vargas and the M’s. Five consecutive base hits were knocked off of Vargas, and it took him six batters to record his first out, an RBI sacrifice fly.

After former Mariner Jack Hannahan joined in on the batting practice session and  delivered an RBI single, Vargas’ night was over.

Vargas lasted just 3 1/3 innings as he was tossed around, giving up seven earned runs on nine hits. He struck out only one batter as the same command of his strikeout pitches exhibited against the Athletics was nowhere to be seen.

And the bullpen, one of the most well-rested in all of baseball, was in for a rude awakening. Reliever Tom Wilhemsen could not stop the bleeding, as he surrendered five runs in less than 1 2/3 innings.

But the chief concern for the Mariners tonight was Jason Vargas and his puzzling inconsistency. Vargas was impressive if not brilliant in Safeco Field last year, going 9-6 with a remarkable 2.84 ERA.

But after he followed up his outstanding performance against the A’s with this stinker, doubt has suddenly been cast as to whether or not he can stay as a reliable contributer in the rotation, much less the No. 2 starter.

Ichiro was the only M’s batter to accomplish anything of note, going 2 for 5 with 2 RBI on the night. Justin Smoak went 1 for 3 with a walk, continuing his streak of increased patience at the plate.

The problem with Friday evening’s game went past the 12-3 result that the scoreboard indicated. The M’s offense only generated six hits compared to the Indians’ 17, but it went past that too.

What pained me was the lack of effort and fight in the team, an indictment commonly made against the ’10 Mariners, who seemed to quit when things didn’t go right.

This lack of focus was epitomized by the throwing error and wild pitch made in the same play in the fifth inning, giving away an easy run.

And things certainly aren’t going right as the team falls to 2-5, desperately searching for a win.

But to quit now after a disappointing start would be ludicrous. The Mariners are obviously in dire need of a win, or at least something positive to build off. They’ll need the veteran leadership to step up as well.

But to seemingly toss in the towel as they did against the Indians is something the team cannot stand for. 

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