It is looking less likely as time goes along that the Mariners will make a huge splash this offseason. They very well still could, but with Josh Hamilton off the market and an increased interest in Nick Swisher from multiple teams, a big time move does not seem very likely.
I said last week that at this point, the Ms have two options: go all out, or sit tight and reevaluate next year after the young guys have shown a little more. I still believe that those are two good options, but I would like to add to that.
I think the Mariners need to find a platoon for Casper Wells. Platoons are very undervalued, despite the ability to be very effective when implemented correctly. People tend to assume that platoons are only good for teams that don’t have anything else, but that is not the case.
Casper Wells absolutely dominated left handed pitching last year, to the tune of .891 OPS, .382 wOBA and 150 wRC+. There is no reason that the Ms should not be playing him against lefties. If he can hit like that, along with above average defense and speed, he is the ideal 4th outfielder and one half of a platoon.
Now, some of you may have a bad taste in your mouth from the Eric Thames/Wells platoon that was sub-par last season, but that is precisely why the Ms need to find him a suitable platoon partner. His production coupled with a similar left handed batter, could make for a very valuable player.
Here are some examples of guys who would be a good “other half” for the friendly ghost.
The Ms were actually linked to the 31 year old outfielder/1st baseman during the winter meetings, but talks cooled down, presumably when the Pirates offered Jones for Taijuan Walker. There were also reports that there were talks of a John Jaso, Justin Smoak and Hector Noesi for Jones and pitcher Joel Hanrahan. Obviously both of those trade are awful, but if the price were to come down to Jason Vargas+ or something like that, then it would be a great move.
Last year, Jones hit .274/.317/.516 overall, but we want to focus on him as a platoon player. In 2012 he put up an .888 OPS, .374 wOBA and 138 wRC+ against right handed pitchers. That is very similar t0 Wells against lefties, and would make for some great production in right field.
In fact, lets examine how great the production would be.
If you take Jones vs. RHP and Wells vs. LHP, you get a .276/.348/.541/.889 — .378 wOBA — 144 wRC+ line from your right fielder(s). That kind of production would be welcomed in Seattle, and would only cost the trade return for Jones, and $5-6M a year.
Jones isn’t worth what the rumors suggested, but if he can had without giving up any current offensive starters or the top specs, then he makes a lot of sense.
The journeyman outfielder doesn’t have quite as much pop as Jones, but he certainly knows how to hit right handed pitching. He would also most likely come cheaper than Jones judging by the rumors.
Last year, DeJesus hit .263/.350/.403 for the Cubs, but the splits that we are focusing on look even better. DeJesus put up a .358 wOBA and 122 wRC+ versus righties last year, compared to an embarrassing .225/33 against lefties. I think its safe to say he would be a platoon only guy.
If he were buddied up with Wells last year, the duo would have made for a .278/.364/.494 — .370 wOBA — 136 wRC+ line last year. Like Jones, his services could be very valuable to this team if he comes at the right price. Jones makes a little more sense because he brings more power potential, but DeJesus makes up for it with his on-base ability, and would be fine with me.
Those are just a couple options available. As seen above, both guys could have a huge impact on the offense without giving up too much. As I write this, I am seeing that Jason Vargas was traded for Kendrys Morales, but that doesn’t really change anything in my opinion. Morales and a left handed platoon could make for a decent offseason as the young guys develop.
Bottom line is, platoons work, and they make a ton of sense for this current team. Let the young guys grow, and bring in some help around them. At this point, it makes more sense that going over the top for a free agent.
When the Mariners swapped Doug Fister to Detroit for four young players in 2011, it seemed like the Mariners had gotten a decent haul for a mid-to-back end starter. Fast forward to today and the package doesn’t look so great. While Fister has taken a step forward and become a #2 starter, the Mariners package seems to consist of mainly role players. Sure, Charlie Furbush had a breakthrough year out of the pen in 2012, but his potential as a starting pitcher has all but vanished. 22-year-old Francisco Martinez was over-matched in Double-A last season – hitting .227 with 2 home-runs in 402 plate appearances and showing few signs of translating the potential that some scouts saw in him. Prized relief prospect Chance Ruffin took a major step backward in 2012, lacking the stuff that made him a first round pick in 2010. The final piece of the package was Casper Wells, whose future in the organization is likely to be equally questionable.
Casper Wells brings a lot of athleticism to the table and it’s easy to see why the front office targeted him in the Fister deal. Wells has one of the stronger arms in the game, the range to play centerfield in a pinch, and very impressive pull power from the right side. However, Wells has been extremely inconsistent and hasn’t really gotten the benefit of regular playing time from manager Eric Wedge. In the first couple months, Wells only got 53 plate appearances and then was soon demoted to Tacoma. When he was finally given regular playing time in July, Wells disappointed with a .226/.293/.396 line during that month.
Now the Mariners have gone out and signed a possible replacement in Jason Bay, and could possibly add one or two more outfielders to the mix. If this is the case, then Casper Wells could very well be on his way out of Seattle or he’s going to have to fight hard to make the 25-man roster in the spring.
As a right-handed outfielder, Bay is currently the main competition for Wells on the roster. Let’s take a look at how their skills have stacked up over the past three years.
Based on these numbers, Wells and Bay have quite similar profiles. The advantages for Bay include his veteran leadership and slightly better contact and discipline skills. Meanwhile, Wells should be in his prime and has brought much more productive power and defense in the past three years. As you can see in the profile above, Wells seems to be average-to-above average in every area except for contact. In 2012, Wells ranked 256th in contact rate out of the 265 players who had 300 or more plate appearances. This has been a huge area of concern for Wells and it should be noted that his contact rate has declined significantly in each big league season. On a positive note, it was reported that Wells got Lasik surgery this off-season which hopefully can help him improve in this area.
Although I think Wells can bring more with the glove, I think it’ll be interesting to see if Bay can find some of the elite power that he had as recently as 2009. Overall, it’ll be up to Bay and Wells to duke it out in the spring and prove who can contribute more to the 2013 team. If the Mariners add another outfielder or two, Wells could quickly become an outsider and may very well have a new team come April.
Comment below: Can you see Wells being a factor in 2013? How about a Thames/Wells platoon in right field?
The all star break is always a good time to stop and evaluate a season. It’s easy to just see at the 36-51 record and call it a bad season, but let’s look at the specific goods and bads from the season thus far. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many goods, so I will start with them.
Felix (most of the time)
Other than June, when he posted a 4.45 ERA, Felix has been phenomenal. Our only all star has an ERA of 2.67. Sure, his fastball hasn’t lit up radar guns like he used to, but Felix is still a great pitcher with electric stuff. I wouldn’t worry about our king.
Wells and Saunders
Going into the season, most people didn’t want to give Michael Saunders a chance, but a Franklin Gutierrez injury opened up a spot for Saunders, and he has done well. His 20.9 line drive rate has far exceeded previous seasons, and his .320 BABIP has been stellar as well. Saunders has also tacked on eight homeruns and thirteen stolen bases.
Wells started off slow, but since heating up in July, he has hit .340 with three homeruns in 20 games. He has also been one of the few guys who have hit better at home than on the road. Both Saunders and Wells have performed beyond expectations, and will hopefully continue to do so in the second half of the year.
Justin Smoak’s month of May
Smoak’s year has been very discouraging, but the month of May was bright. In that month, he hit .255 with six homeruns and eighteen rbis. A year at this pace would amount to 36 long balls and 108 runs batted in. May was the only month that I felt we were seeing what Smoak is actually capable of. I know the other two months of the season for Smoak was abysmal, but at least we have seen a glimpse of Smoak’s capability.
Jaso came over from Tampa in return for a AAA reliever in Josh Lueke, but he has turned out to be much better than a seventh reliever. He has provided a solid bat off the bench and also a good option behind the dish. He is hitting .267 in 135 at bats, has drove in 21 runs, and has nearly as many walks as strikeouts. Considering what the M’s gave up for Jaso, he has been a quite pleasant surprise.
The struggles of Brandon League forced Tom Wilhelmson into the closer role where he has excelled. In 39 appearences, the former bartender has earned a 2.44 ERA, seven saves, and seven holds. His curveball has also provided some comical reactions from batters.
Furbush and Leutge
Furbush didn’t start on the major league roster, but when the lefty got his chance, he turned into a reliable option in the bullpen. In 36.2 innings of work, the southpaw has posted a 2.21 ERA, .148 opponent average and, more impressively, a .818 WHIP. Unlike most Mariner pitchers who excel at home and struggle on the road, batters are hitting just .114 off of Furbush in visiting ballparks.
Luetge’s role in the bullpen this year has been very specific, and he has become an excellent lefty specialist. Left-handed batters are hitting just .140 off of Luetge this season. 52 lefty batters have stepped into the box against Luetge, and only six batters have gotten hits off of him, none of which were extra-base hits, while sixteen have struck out.
The Big 3
The trio of young prospects have had a great first half of the year, and Hultzen and Walker were both invited to the MLB Futures game where they each made appearances. In AA, the three have posted a 16-10 record and ERAs of 1.19, 4.50, and 3.46. They each have also struck out an average of more than one batter per inning. Hultzen has been the only arm to be promoted to AAA Tacoma, but the other two aren’t far behind.
Time to take a look at the countless bads of this season.
It didn’t matter if Ichiro was batting third or first, he hardly hit at all. His .288 OBP was miserable and he didn’t show any of the power that Wedge had hoped to see in the middle of the order. There is nothing more to say than that Ichiro’s 2012 campaign has been a major disappointment.
As discussed earlier, Justin Smoak had a phenomenal month of May in which he showed the ability that Jack Z thought he was getting in the Cliff Lee deal. However, the other two months of the year have been discouraging. In March, April, and May, Smoak has batted a mere .171 with 5 long balls and 14 rbis. That’s production deserving of a demotion to AAA. If the Smoakamotive doesn’t figure out his swing in the second half of the season, he will quickly find himself out of a spot in the future of the organization.
Beavan and Noesi
2012 is the first full season for each of these two young pitchers. They each earned spots in the starting rotation out of spring training, but they have each had horrible first halves and have been sent back to AAA. Beavan’s ERA was 5.92 until he was demoted to Tacoma. He also had an average of 1.73 homeruns per game which is a shocking number considering how many games he pitched in Safeco Field.
Noesi’s record this year is 2-11. He has lost eleven games in seventeen starts. While this can be blamed on Seattle’s inadequate offense, Noesi has still had a miserable season. His ERA is fifth to worst in baseball, his FIP is worst, xFIP third to worst, and HR/9 the worst as well. Just consider that; a pitcher who has the luxury of throwing in Safeco Field has given up homeruns more consistently than any other pitcher in baseball. THAT’S EMBARRASSING. That’s Hector Noesi.
Ackley set high expectations for himself hitting .273 in his rookie season, but his sophomore campaign has been drastically worse. His average has dropped 40 points, his OBP 37 points, and his slugging percentage has dropped 92 points. Even Ackley’s line drive rate has also fallen a bit. Unlike Smoak, Ackley has plenty of time to become a good hitter, but this year has certainly been a major setback in the course of his career.
The injury bug has been everywhere in the Mariner’s locker room. It started in the spring training with Franklin Gutierez and continued in the opening series when Mike Carp went down. Even the young players like Stephen Pryor and Erasmo Ramirez have been struck by injuries. Kevin Millwood was pulled from a game in which he was throwing a no-hitter due to a muscle strain.
Mike Carp (when healthy)
Carp has only been able to play in 32 games because of injuries, but when he has played, he has been horrible. His average is just .157, he has struck out in over a quarter of his at bats, and his LD% is 15.5%. The only good thing about Carp’s season at the plate has been his 14.3% walk rate which has escalated his OBP to just two points below Ichiro’s.
In 2011, League was an all-star closer. In 2012, he has been a save blowing machine. He has blown six saves and has five losses in 39 appearances. Not only has League lost several games for the Mariners, but he has erased a once great trade value.
Here are just a few of the highs and lows of the first half of the season. I may have forced a few of the goods and ignored many of the bads, but sometimes you have to do that as a Mariner fan. Let’s hope we have more good things to talk about when the season ends.
Tags: Blake Beavan, Brandon League, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Danny Hultzen, dustin ackley, featured, Felix Hernandez, Franklin Gutierez, Hector Noesi, Ichiro, james paxton, John Jaso, justin smoak, kevin millwood, Lucas Luetge, Mariners General, Michael Saunders, Mike Carp, Popular, taijuan walker, Tom Wilhelmson
Here we are again, sellers at the trade deadline. The deadline is now less than a month away, and it’s time to start looking at what the Mariners will be selling and what they might get in return.
First on the block: Jason Vargas
Vargas may be the biggest piece the M’s have to offer this trade season. Despite his respectable 4.31 ERA in 117 innings of work, his value isn’t as great as the stat line indicates. Safeco Field is the perfect conditions for a left-handed pitcher. Vargas lacks tremendous tools on the mound, but the spacious outfield at Safeco combined with the marine layer makes a perfect combo for him. Take a look at these splits.
While there is still value for Vargas, he would be a 4th or 5th starter on most playoff-bound teams, so the Mariners wouldn’t get more than bottom of the rotation value. A comparable trade could be the Jerrod Washburn deal in 2009 when the M’s sent him to Detroit for Luke French and Mauricio Robles. Vargas and Washburn share the similarities of being crafty lefties, but Vargas’ age and contract will raise his value a bit over Washburn’s. The Mariners would likely get one or two mid level prospects in return for Vargas on the market.
Next up: Kevin Millwood
Millwood has had a respectable season posting a 4.00 ERA in 83.1 innings of work, but teams trading for him would be getting no more than a 5th starter/long reliever and veteran presence in the locker room. This skill set can be valuable to a playoff ballclub. Still, I wouldn’t expect to get any more than a low-level prospect and maybe some cash. A Millwood trade would also open a rotation spot for quickly progressing prospect, Danny Hultzen who has three starts in AAA currently. If Seattle can get a decent offer for Millwood, I would expect them to accept considering they will have no use for him next year.
How about dealing Miguel Olivo?
Like Millwood, Olivo is a veteran presence, but he can also pitch in a little power. A team with a suspect catching situation may be interested in him to add some depth and pop at the position. The Rays, Angels, and Mets are a couple of playoff contenders that may be interested in a guy like Olivo. Again, Seattle wouldn’t get much in return, perhaps a minor prospect or two. John Jaso could probably get a bit more in return, but I don’t see the Mariners being willing to part with him.
Of Course, Brandon League
League is no stranger to trade rumors; his name has been mentioned for the last couple seasons. Unfortunately, his stock is at an all-time low due to his demotion from the closer role. Nevertheless, an organization with an unstable closing situation could still see him as a potential closer. It would be interesting to see what a team would sacrifice for League. Some teams may be willing to pay a typical price for a closer who is one year removed from an all-star year, and some teams may pay the price of an average reliever. I could see League fetching anything from a plus prospect to a low A pitcher.
Believe it or not: Chone Figgins
Yes, I said it, Chone Figgins has trade value. Very little value, but value nonetheless. An article from a while back
indicated that the Rangers might be interested in our disaster. There is a market for the pinch runner/utility man mold that Figgins fits, and I don’t think any Mariner fan would object to ridding themselves of the most hated man in the Mariner organization. The M’s would likely have to eat most of Figgins’ salary and get little in return, but if that’s what it takes to make sure he never wears a Mariner uniform again, then I wouldn’t hesitate.
Mike Carp and Casper Wells
Depending on the team, both of these players could be a 3rd or 4th outfielder or even a pinch hitter which is basically a position of its own in the national league considering that pitchers need to be pinch-hit for in late innings. One guy is a lefty, and the other a righty, but I could see teams showing interest in these two guys, especially Wells considering the year he is having.
Jason Vargas went seven innings today allowing only 5 hits and a walk to go along with 3 runs scored by the Colorado Rockies in a damp afternoon game in Denver. Fortunately for Vargas the Mariners offense scored a season high 10 runs today led by none other than our prospective All-Star Kyle Seager who drove-in 3 runs today including a 2-run homer in the second inning to set the tone for this one.
Seager continues to draw attention with his great start and now with his 26 RBI’s finds himself knocking on the door of the top ten AL RBI leaders to go along with his .292 average. If he keeps this up he may indeed find himself getting to the All-Star game as an invitee which would be nothing short of a miracle.
By the way the picture above was taken by Liz Otis a loyal Mariners fan who lives in the Denver area now and has a great attitude about this team and has been bringing signs to the games to show her support of her home team. I’m happy for her, and rumor is she is already working on a sweep sign for the closer tomorrow!
This game along with the gem the veteran Kevin Millwood pitched last night go a long way to taking the sting out of what has been a long tough road trip that thankfully will be over soon allowing our boys to head back to Safeco Field Monday night to try their luck with the powerhouse Texas Rangers.
Good to see Brendan Ryan get a couple hits today including a triple as we need him to get going offensively this year. I was also glad to see the skipper give Casper “The Ghost Player” Wells a start in left today where Wells played his usual great defense and picked-up a couple hits today including a two-run single in the big sixth inning. Wells deserves a chance at more playing time and today’s performance could help Eric Wedge have more confidence in him out there.
I’m glad I hung around to watch this game today as I missed most of last night’s performance by Millwood but I think I’m going to try to catch a bit of the U-District Street Fair going on this weekend which signals the beginning of our short but wonderful summers here in Seattle. Go M’S! http://jeffsmariner.com
It has only been less than two weeks since Eric Wedge finally gave up on Chone Figgins. The entire city of Seattle breathed a sigh of relief knowing that they would no longer have to watch him and his sub-Mendoza line batting average every night. … [visit site to read more]
At what point do you shorten the leash of an underperforming player?
I’m trying to be generous here, since this is a post about visit site to read more]
With a look at the stats, you will see the Mariner’s disappointing .238 batting average and .275 BABIP. These are pretty discouraging numbers, but don’t mark this offense as a failure yet.
What the batting average doesn’t show is … [visit site to read more]
Tags: alex liddi, brendan ryan, Casper Wells, Chone Figgins, dustin ackley, featured, Ichiro, Jesus Montero, John Jaso, justin smoak, kyle seager, Mariners General, Michael Saunders, miguel olivo, Munenori Kawasaki, Popular, Stats
You know there were 11 different Mariners sent to the plate that came up empty yesterday. No hits, no walks, and no runners reaching on error. A perfect game. A perfect game that I didn’t even know happened until this morning when watching … [visit site to read more]
Going into the season, it looked like Kyle Seager would be a bench player/AAA guy in the Mariner’s organization caused by Chone Figgin’s massive salary and Mike Carp’s 2011 resurgence. However, on the first game of the year, Mike Carp suffered … [visit site to read more]
Tags: Brad Miller, brendan ryan, Casper Wells, Chone Figgins, dustin ackley, featured, Francisco Martinez, kyle seager, Mariners General, Michael Saunders, Mike Carp, nick franklin, Popular, Vinnie Catricala
Just yesterday I was pondering how much longer the Mariners would wait to trim a few loose strings. Today those strings have been neatly trimmed…kind of.
Here is your Seattle Mariners 2012 Opening Day Roster.
Tags: alex liddi, Blake Beavan, Brandon League, brendan ryan, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Chone Figgins, dustin ackley, Erasmo Ramirez, featured, Felix Hernandez, George Sherrill, Hector Noesi, hisashi iwakuma, Ichiro Suzuki, Jason Vargas, Jesus Montero, John Jaso, justin smoak, kevin millwood, kyle seager, Lucas Luetge, Mariners General, Michael Saunders, miguel olivo, Mike Carp, Munenori Kawasaki, Popular, shawn Kelley, Steve Delabar, Tom Wilhelmsen
The Mariners play their first game in Japan in less than a week, but there are still position battles that are unsettled. Here is a look at a few of these open jobs and the options the Mariner’s have to fill them.
Third base: … [visit site to read more]
Tags: Adam Moore, alex liddi, Blake Beavan, Carlos Peguero, Casper Wells, Chone Figgins, Erasmo Ramirez, featured, Hector Noesi, hisashi iwakuma, Ichiro, Jesus Montero, John Jaso, kevin millwood, kyle seager, Mariners General, Michael Saunders, miguel olivo, Popular, position battles, spring training, Vinnie Catricala
Today, Franklin Gutierrez got hurt in an inter-squad game. The Mariners don’t have the results of the MRI yet, but they have identified his problem as a pectoral muscle injury.
As a life-long Mariner fan, I have learned to just assume the worst … [visit site to read more]
Tags: alex liddi, carlos Guillen, Carlos Peguero, Casper Wells, Chone Figgins, featured, franklin gutierrez, kyle seager, Mariners General, Michael Saunders, Mike Wilson, Popular, Trayvon Robinson, Vinnie Catricala