In the movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, the title character, Borat Sagdiyev, imparts the story of his younger brother Bilo, a tragedy-stricken young man who lives in a cage. For years Bilo is taunted by his sister, Natalya, the No. 4 prostitute in all of Kazakhstan. Natalya, who has even earned a trophy for her whoring efforts, often dances before her confined sibling, flashing her “vazheen,” shouting, “You will never get this, you will never get it, la la la la la la!”
Restricted to a life behind cold, metal bars, Bilo cries. He cries, says Borat, as everybody laughs. And as they laugh, Bilo’s older sister issues a firm decree: “You never get this.”
As far as the Seattle Mariners are concerned, a .500 record might as well be their mystical “vazheen.” Like the cage that imprisons Bilo Sagdiyev, the M’s are seemingly bound to a certain cosmic futility that prevents them from achieving so much as sustained mediocrity. Forget division titles, wildcard berths, playoffs, or championships. No, the immediate goal should be much less than that. Every team has to start somewhere, and for the 2013 Mariners, success commences with a balanced record.
It’s almost cruel the way equilibrium toys with the Mariners. The last time the team had an even mark was way back on April 8, following a 3-0 disposing of the Houston Astros that brought the ballclub to a stable 4-4. Since then, the M’s have lost 20 of 36 games — bad enough to not feel good about things, but not so bad that par can’t easily be attained.
On May 16, just a few short days ago, the Mariners cut their win-loss deficit to a mere one game for the first time since a defeat on April 9 dropped the team to 4-5. Entering a weekend series in Cleveland, the team was poised to level its record anew. What happened next? If you’ve been following the fate of the club, you know all too well: three consecutive losses at the hands of the Indians, dropping the Mariners to four games under .500. It seems like every time the team chips away at their debt to victory, a losing streak rears its ugly head and sends the organization spiraling back down into the red.
For fans, remaining bullish despite such a bear market is difficult, to say the least. While some may write the team off in the heat of the moment, however, there are few who have truly given up on the Mariners. Hope springs eternal…at least through May, I suppose. Pessimism may surround losing, but there are plenty of reasons for fans to believe in a more optimistic future.
For starters, the Mariners have gaping holes at a number of positions. And while the holes themselves aren’t cause for celebration, the imminent patching of those holes should bring about a few smiles.
The most glaring void is at shortstop, where Brendan Ryan and Robert Andino have combined to hit the weight of a supermodel. Neither player has emerged as a winner in this slapfight for playing time, leading to public outcry for alternate solutions. Those alternatives can be found at Triple-A Tacoma, where Carlos Triunfel and Nick Franklin wait patiently for an opportunity with the big club.
Though fans ooze enthusiasm for the left-handed-hitting Franklin, the team may wait on their uber-prospect in favor of the more seasoned Triunfel. Once an uber-prospect himself, Triunfel has had his cup of coffee in the bigs and can provide serviceable ability with both the glove and the bat. Triunfel may not hit .300, but this lineup would be markedly improvement by even a .200 batting average at the shortstop position.
Catcher is another area where upgrades need to be made. Jesus Montero simply isn’t cutting it in the majors, whether as a starter or part-time backup. Montero has struggled all season with the bat (he’s currently hitting .210 with a .596 OPS), but it’s his defense that has warranted the most criticism of late. The 23-year-old has trouble making the routine plays behind the dish, which presents a whole new set of problems since the Mariners are oddly committed to Montero as a catcher.
The M’s stubbornness to keep a mitt on Montero’s left hand seems like it might be a ploy to boost his trade value. Long term, Montero has no future donning the tools of ignorance for Seattle. But with another organization? It’s possible. Hence, the franchise continues to believe in Montero, the catcher, rather than just Montero, the hitter. Either way, Jesus has not earned his roster spot with the bat nor the glove, so what’s he still doing here? It’s a question that has yet to be answered.
Finally, the back end of the starting rotation continues to be an area of weakness. Between the inconsistencies of a rookie (Brandon Maurer), the road woes of Joe Saunders, and the perpetual sadness that is Aaron Harang, the team could use some stability beyond their one-two punch of Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma.
If a move is made in the near future, expect Harang to be the departing party. The 35-year-old right-hander appears to be in the twilight’s twilight of his career, and frankly if Harang can’t succeed in the pitcher-friendly confines of Seattle, where can he succeed?
The M’s have their share of Harang replacements grooming in Tacoma. The most immediate option could be 30-year-old reclamation project Jeremy Bonderman, who, if promoted, would essentially serve as a stopgap until a younger arm proved worthy of a call-up. Bonderman has been good, not great, in Triple-A; the same could be said for his more youthful teammates. Undoubtedly, fans would like to see top prospects Danny Hultzen or James Paxton make their Mariners debuts, but Hultzen has been on the disabled list since mid-April, while Paxton has had an up-and-down year.
Right now, the Rainiers’ best starting pitcher is probably 26-year-old right-hander Andrew Carraway. Carraway is as unassuming as they come, blessed with a low-nineties fastball and ho-hum off-speed pitches. He gets outs, though, and that’s all that really matters. Once upon a time the Mariners had another minor leaguer in the Carraway mold who you may remember, a guy by the name of Doug Fister. Carraway may not turn out to be a Fister clone, but if he induces blanks on the scoreboard, he could ease the pain of having to watch a pus-throwing Harang every five days.
Hesitation to pull the trigger on any of these promotions hangs on a variety of different reasons. Promoting Triunfel or Franklin would likely result in the team designating Andino for assignment, all but ending his tenure in Seattle. Demoting Montero would mean promoting an unproven backup in Jesus Sucre, or rushing Mike Zunino. And bestowing the fifth spot in the rotation to anyone not named Aaron Harang would mean entrusting significant innings pitched to a call-up with whom the ballclub may not have much faith. Each move comes with a bevy of question marks, yet each move has become warranted.
Change may be difficult for this team to embrace, but it’s time for change to occur. The M’s have been staying afloat with four key contributors (or three-ish, if you count Ryan and Andino as a tandem) doing almost no contributing. It’s unfair to keep everyone wondering what contributions in each of those roles could do for this ballclub. If nothing else, we have to believe that positive changes would lead this team to a .500 record. And from .500, who knows what’s next? Getting back to even has a way of becoming something more, something greater. Division titles, wildcard berths, playoffs, and championships all start with a .500 record or better. But for now, our goals remain simple.
The tale Borat Sagdiyev tells of his younger brother does not end with Bilo sobbing behind bars. Like all good tales, this one has a happy ending. Amidst daily taunts of “You will never get this,” Bilo perseveres in his quest for both his freedom and his sister’s vazheen. And then one day, one magical day, it happens. “One time,” reveals Borat, “he break cage and he ‘get this.’ And then we all laugh!”
It’s about time the Mariners break from their cage and “get this.” We could all use a good laugh.
Filed under: Mariners
Today marks the first day of September, and with the ninth month of the year comes a bevy of call-ups as the rosters are expanded from 25 players to 40. Manager Eric Wedge probably won’t use all 40 roster spots, but here is a look at some guys that should be seen in Seattle this fall, and some sleepers that may make appearances as well.
First of all, there are the obvious guys that have split time between Seattle and Tacoma this year. Erasmo Ramirez and Carlos Peguero, both members of this group, have been recalled already. Names inside of this category that are currently in Tacoma include Shawn Kelly, Hector Noesi, Alex Liddi, Mike Carp, and Casper Wells.
I would expect Ramirez and Noesi to both get scattered starts considering the struggles of Kevin Millwood. Ramirez has actually pitched well this year, and would have likely spent the entire year in Seattle if it weren’t for an injury. He currently holds a 3.82 ERA and 1.109 WHIP in 30.2 innings of combined relief and starting work in the MLB.
A few players that won’t get free passes for September, but will likely get some time with the big club are D.J. Mitchell, Carlos Triunfel, and maybe Danny Hultzen. At 25 years old, Mitchell was one of the players acquired in the Ichiro trade. After the swap, Mitchell was assigned to Tacoma where he has posted a 2.96 ERA. However, Mitchell’s 3.51 BB/9 has been problematic.
Triunfel has not necessarily earned a September callup, but he may get the opportunity out of necessity. As much as I like Brendan Ryan, his lack of offense is frustrating. While Triunfel’s AAA OBP of .305 is hardly better than Brendan Ryan’s OBP, I think that Triunfel needs to be given a chance in the infield. Honestly, I would like to see Triunfel get an opportunity for the sole reason of ruling him out of our future. At one point, Triunfel was planted squarely in the future of the Mariners, but he has faded out of the organization’s plans. I would like to see him get a few games just so that we can say that we gave him an opportunity before entirely writing him out of Seattle’s plans. It’s a somewhat convoluted strategy, but I think that Seattle needs reassurance that Brendan Ryan is the absolute best player at shortstop right now.
Danny Hultzen has also had a very frustrating stint in AAA. After dominating AA Jackson, the lefty has gone 1-5 with a
6.09 ERA in Tacoma. His BB/9 skyrocketed from 3.82 in AA to 7.71 in AAA. Although his control has been a problem, it would be good to get Hultzen some experience in Seattle, and I would be surprised if he wasn’t promoted for September.
The previously mentioned eight players have a pretty good chance of seeing time at Safeco Field in the upcoming month, but there are a few other guys that could unexpectedly be called up to Seattle. The first sleeper is Andrew Carraway. Like Hultzen, Carraway excelled in AA but had more problems in AAA. He did, however, maintain an excellent HR/9 and BB/9. With the big three looming on the horizon, Carraway may not get on opportunity to establish himself in the rotation in the next two years. If he is going to get a chance with the Mariners, now might be the time.
The biggest sleeper of them all could be Luis Antonio Jimenez. The 30 year-old Jimenez is running out of time to make a major league roster, but he has put up stellar numbers in AAA this season. His 20 homeruns, 81 RBIs, .398 OPS, .520 SLG, and .918 OPS all rank in the top 12 for PCL players this season.
Neither of these sleeper players are on the 40-man roster right now, so someone would need to be removed in order to make room for them.
There are always top prospects like Nick Franklin, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and Mike Zunino that may get a chance to be called up, but none of these players are on the 40-man roster either. They could be added, but the organization may not want to remove other players from the roster quite yet.
September will be a good opportunity to see some new faces on the Mariners and will also provide valuable experience for some guys that will be needed in Seattle next season or the season after. I wouldn’t expect many of the extremely hyped prospects to make appearances this month, but it will still be exciting to see some young players at work in the major leagues.
Josh Kinney used to be good.
I say this with the fairly confident assertion that you know little of Kinney’s past, that, like me, you were familiar with his name only because you took the Sporcle Mariners Spring Training quiz approximately 80 times this spring so people would assume you knew the roster very well. (It worked, by the way, but only until the season started and I didn’t have to remember Jesus Sucre or Guillermo Quiroz or Carlos Guillen.)
Until last night, however, when I briefly entertained the idea of Kinney making his Mariner MLB debut, did I realize that I know next to nothing about him—which brings me back to my initial statement.
Josh Kinney was good approximately six years ago. He wormed his way into the majors with a stint in the Frontier League, circa 2001. From 2001 to 2006, Kinney climbed from one minor league team to the next, eventually receiving a promotion to the Cardinals’ major league team after finding success with the AAA Memphis Redbirds.
2006 marked not only his breakout year, but his best year to date in MLB. He was used in relief 21 times, posting a SIERA of 3.34 and a FIP of 4.03. In 21.0 IP, he collected 17 hits, 9 runs, and 22 strikeouts. Most notably, he pitched in both the NLDS, NLCS, and Games 2 and 4 of the World Series, his first and last postseason appearances to date.
From 2007 – 2008, Josh Kinney faced a bit of a regression in the majors; mostly due to his recovery from Tommy John surgery. With that in mind, let me correct myself once more: major league Josh Kinney used to be good. Minor league Josh Kinney still manages to impress as a reliever, consistently posting an ERA under 2.80 in his last 3 years traipsing the farm systems of St. Louis, Chicago, and Seattle.
This season, Kinney made 27 appearances for the Rainiers. As part of a pitching staff that includes Mariners notables like Andrew Carraway and Danny Hultzen, Josh found ways to earn notice with a 2.27 FIP and 3.45 K/BB. Next to Oliver Perez, another recent addition to the Mariners’ bullpen, Kinney has struck out the highest number of batters among Tacoma relievers, with 38 Ks in 36.2 IP.
The fluctuation of success found in major league and minor league clubs is not the most comforting sign when promoting a player, especially with the incoming waves of new starters and relievers waiting to take their shot at Safeco Field. Still, as a short-term fix, Kinney should be able to settle in well for a handful of appearances—and if he sticks, who knows? Maybe he’ll be closing out another World Series run in the near future.
Last year, I did a write up on some of the under appreciated prospects in the Mariners system. I called it the Ryan Anderson Relief Squad. Despite being the one that picked the name, it bothered me. Most of the prospects I chose were guys that were under appreciated and though not all didn’t have very successful seasons, others did just fine and even one had a gigantic breakout season.
This year, I’m changing the name but am going to continue the tradition. The idea behind it is of course a dash of being an under appreciated prospect (in my mind) but even more than that these guys have a cult following for one reason or another. Most of them have a specific trait that is easily recognizable and could even get them to the big leagues. George Mieses throws hard, Jonathan Arias misses bats, Johan Limonta gets on base, Jamal Austin is electric on the base paths. The majority that make this list will probably go on to be AAAA fodder or even won’t even make it above AA. But then again they could be potentially be pretty successful ball players.
Ryan Anderson was a top prospect from the day he was drafted. He showed amazing physical abilities and proved them statistically. These guys… well this is the other side of the coin. This is the cult of Scott Savastano.
Tags: Andrew Carraway, Bobby LaFromboise, Cameron Hobson, Cult Of Scott Savastano, Efrain Nunez, gabriel noriega, George Mieses, Jabari Blash, Jamal Austin, Johan Limonta, Jonathan Arias, julio morban, Kyle Hunter, Luke Guarnaccia, Matthew Bischoff, mauricio robles, Reynaldo Sabala, Ryan Anderson Relief Squad, Scott Savastano, Stefan Romero, Willy Kesler
I’ve been thinking. Thinking a lot. This may surprise some of you, as I’m sure based upon reading my blog on somewhat of a semi regular basis most of you probably think of me as a twit, while others just a talking head that recites what others … [visit site to read more]
Tags: Andrew Carraway, Blake Beavan, Brandon Maurer, Charlie Furbush, Erasmo Ramirez, erik bedard, hisashi iwakuma, jarrod washburn, Jason Vargas, Jimmy Gillheeney, Off-Season, russell branyan, Signings, taijuan walker
So wow, things have been hectic on my side and it’s caused things to go in a bit of a different direction. We had player cards created from 1-20 and Alex did a marvelous job on them. But with real life being… well… insane. We decided to can the cards for now and just go with the names and a mini scouting report.
If you enjoyed the player cards as much as I did make sure you let Alex know. We’ll be doing more with them for the spring watch list.
now as you know this watch list comes with a disclaimer.
Disclaimer: I have said it previously with the initial list and I’ll repeat it now. This is an arbitrary list and there is room for argument just about everywhere and anywhere. But, we’ve done it enough internally and this is what we came up with.
This list is not done professionally. We all freely admit that we are amateurs and that this has been done entirely in recreation and the majority of it was compiled by using information that has been posted elsewhere and is freely available for others to find themselves while incorporating their on field production. I, nor anyone else, is claiming this is a better product than what anyone else has done and it’s most importantly in an effort to give some of these players the credit and recognition they are due in this organization that we love.
Tags: Andrew Carraway, Anthony Vasquez, Brandon Maurer, Carlos Peguero, Carson Smith, Carter Capps, Chance Ruffin, dan cortes, Erasmo Ramirez, Jack Marder, James Gillheeney, james jones, johermyn chavez, John Hicks, jordan shipers, Martin Peguero, mauricio robles, rich poythress, Top 100, Tyler Burgoon, Tyler Marlette
It’s been a busy morning with the start of Pitchers and Catchers reporting and then here at work Servers are crashing and Oracle account(s) locking themselves out. Craziness!
As promised here is Part-2 of the watch-list. Remember this is fluid listing and not the same as a hard set of ranking. The point of this is have an easy reference to some the best of the minor league organization. As the listing is fluid, I’d be happy to move a few guys around so long as you can submit sound reasoning for such a move.
Ultimately, I do have the right to disagree with you and keep people where they currently are slotted. But, I’m a pretty easy going and negotiable guy. So … take it away.
|26||Matt Mangini||25||3B||(1) Draft 2007||(AAA)Tacoma|
|27||Mike Carp||24||1B/LF||Trade (mets)||(AAA)Tacoma|
|28||Dennis Raben||23||1B||(2) Draft 2008||(A) High Desert|
|29||Tom Wilhelmsen||27||RHSP||FA||(AA) Jackson|
|30||Yoervis Medina||22||RHSP||IFA||(low A) Clinton|
|31||Anthony Vasquez||24||LHSP||(18) Draft 2009||(AA) Jackson|
|32||Erasmo Ramirez||20||RHSP||IFA||(A) High Desert|
|33||Jabari Blash||21||RF||(8) Draft 2010||(low A) Clinton|
|34||Brian Moran||22||RHRP||(7) Draft 2009||(AA) Jackson|
|35||Forrest Snow||22||RHRP||(36) Draft 2010||(A) High Desert|
|36||George Mieses||19||RHSP||IFA||(Short Season) Everett|
|37||Richard Vargas||19||RHSP||IFA||(Short Season) Everett|
|38||Matthew Cerione||23||OF||(13) Draft 2009||(A) High Desert|
|39||James Gillheeney||23||LHSP||(8) Draft 2009||(AA) Jackson|
|40||Seon Gi Kim||19||RHSP||IFA||(Short Season) Pulaski|
|41||Anthony Fernandez||20||LHSP||IFA||(low A) Clinton|
|42||Josh Fields||25||RHRP||(1) Draft 2008||(AA) Jackson|
|43||Julio Morban||18||CF||IFA||(Short Season) Everett|
|44||Steve Baron||20||C||(1) Draft 2009||(low A) Clinton|
|45||Mickey Wiswall||22||1B||(7) Draft 2010||(low A) Clinton|
|46||Steve Hensley||24||RHSP||(4) Draft 2008||(AA) Jackson|
|47||Brandon Maurer||20||RHSP||(23) Draft 2008||(low A) Clinton|
|48||Phillips Castillo||17||OF||IFA||AZL Instructs|
|49||Andrew Carraway||24||RHSP||(12) Draft 2008||(AA) Jackson|
|50||Kevin Rivers||22||RF||Non-Drafted FA||(low A) Clinton|
Note:I don’t have the all the links set-up just quiet yet. But, the list is there and you can comment as you see fit.
Tags: Andrew Carraway, Anthony Fasquez, Anthony Fernandez, Brandon Maurer, brian moran, Dennis Raben, Erasmo Ramirez, Forrest Snow, George Mieses, Jabari Blash, James Gillheeney, josh fields, julio morban, Kevin Rivers, Mariners General, Matt Mangini, Metthew Cerione, Mickey Wiswall, Mike Carp, Minor Leagues, Phillip Castillo, Prospect Listings, Richard Vargas, Seon-Gi Kim, Steve Baron, Steve Hensley, Tom Wilhelmsen, Top 100, Yoervis Medina