Tonight I joined 15,367 other Mariners fans down at Safeco Field for an open house sponsored by the Seattle Mariners organization to show off their new giant big-screen, the new fences, and more importantly the all new 2013 Seattle Mariners. It was a surreal environment at the Safe tonight with all the fans milling around and looking up at the giant big-screen of the opening game in Oakland as Felix Hernandez led his club to a 2-0 victory going 7 2/3 innings giving up only three hits, one walk, zero runs and striking out eight hapless Athletics.
I’m not sure what to say about the new giant big-screen except that it’s indeed huge and hopefully it will not provide too much of a distraction for so many of the fans who only seem to go to games for the Hydro races and other little gimmicks that the Mariners ownership has relied on for the past 10 years since they haven’t put a real team on the field. But for tonight the Seattle Mariners did put a real team on the field down in Oakland against their division rival Athletics featuring the King himself who was up to the task of providing his usual opening day leadership with this gutsy performance. The Mariners offense only managed a couple runs when Franklin Gutierrez drove in Dustin Ackley and Brendan Ryan with a single up the middle in the top of the fifth inning. But thankfully Felix was on his game and though the relievers looked a bit shaky we managed to pull off a victory in what was sort of a home opener.
It felt really good to be down at the Safe again wandering around, eating hot dogs and watching baseball. It only cost me 10 bucks tonight for my parking so that was a steal, and considering the way the Mariners have played the past 10 years the ownership group might want to consider having a free night every now and then to draw some of us shell-shocked fans back into the house that Griffey built. It was nice to see Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales in the middle of the lineup tonight though they didn’t do much tonight you could just tell that the dynamics have changed with these two sluggers hitting in the middle of the pack. It’s hard to hate the Oakland Athletics, though they probably are our only real rival so to speak, it seems like I’ve watched them play 1000 times and no matter who they have on their team they always seem to look the same with those goofy green uniforms. You gotta love the Oakland fans, as they were definitely loud and boisterous tonight coming off their AL West championship last season. So off we go to the races now folks with another year of my Mariners fan blog and an improved club that is now 1-0 with only 161 games to play! Go Mariners!http://jeffsmariners.com
Tomorrow is opening day for the Mariners, and you should be PUMPED! The team is undeniably moving in the right direction. This year will be another step forward for Seattle, and they may even surprise some people. I don’t usually like giving super bold predictions, so here is a quick list of somewhat bold predictions I am making for the Mariners this year.
Brendan Ryan hits .270
Ryan literally didn’t hit his own weight in 2012, but that’s not how it has always been. In his first full season in the major leagues, Ryan hit .292 with a .332 BABIP. Sure, the BABIP is a bit high, but it certainly is no indication of a future .194 hitter like he was in 2012. One of the big differences between the Ryan of 2012 and previous years was that he had no luck getting hits from ground balls. His average on line drives was also low which indicates a bit of unluckiness which is supported by his measly .244 BABIP over the season. Common logic tells us that his average will rise back to the mid .200’s. In theory, his adjusted hitting mechanics will cut down on his strikeout rate which has climbed for each of the last two seasons, and his removed bone spur should help him as well. Once you take all these things into consideration, a .270 average from Ryan seems possible.
Blake Beavan doesn’t last the full season in the rotation
If you read my last article, you know that I don’t think much of Blake Beavan. When I look at him, I see a pitcher who pitches to contact but doesn’t know how to get groundballs and doesn’t know how to avoid barrels. His stuff isn’t good enough to bail him out when he makes mistakes, and he tends to make a lot of mistakes. With Erasmo Ramirez, Jeremy Bonderman, Danny Hultzen, and James Paxton all sitting in AAA close to being prepared to pitch in Seattle, I don’t see the Mariners giving Beavan a whole lot of slack this season.
The Mariners are within 4 games of division lead in September
This somewhat bold prediction is derived from a gut feeling more than anything else. My main support for this ascertain is a simple, “why not?” The Mariners are a solid team that, with a little extra production, could win 85 games this year, and the division probably doesn’t have a team good enough to run away with the AL West crown unless the Angels’ rotation over performs. Saying that the Mariners will win the division is a bit too bold for me, but saying that they will be the hunt down the stretch is just somewhat bold enough for my liking.
Michael Saunders has a 25/25 year
Last year, Saunders hit 19 homeruns and stole 21 bases. In 2013, he will likely get more at bats and will probably have much better protection in the batting order. Assuming that he continues to progress as a player, a 25/25 year for Saunders would be a bit surprising but certainly not unrealistic.
King Felix wins his second Cy Young award
Again, why not? There is no doubt that Felix Hernandez has good enough stuff to win the Cy Young, and this year his numbers should get a little help from the games he will pitch against the Astros instead of the Angels. The improved offense should provide a few more wins which will give him some extra votes. Seattle’s stellar defense should also help his case. Even with the fences moving in, Safeco won’t be easy on batters and Felix’ numbers outside of Safeco have never been much worse than at home. In fact, he has allowed more homeruns at home than on the road in several different seasons. The dimensions shouldn’t have a significant impact of the King.
Franklin Gutierrez gets traded
The pieces match up for a trade like this happening. It’s his last year under contract, the Mariners could use to dump his salary, he doesn’t seem to be in the organization’s future, and he could fetch a decent return. It’s a perfect situation for Seattle. It’s not often that a gold glove caliber centerfielder gets traded, but if it is going to happen this summer, it will probably happen to Guti.
Mike Zunino makes his major league debut before the all star break
Zunino has thrived in every level of competition he has seen thus far. He will start 2013 on the doorstep of the major leagues, and with nothing more than a defensively inept catcher standing between him and a major league starting job, it doesn’t seem like he’ll have to wait very long to get his major league debut. Prior to the all star break may be a bit optimistic, but it is doable. His ETA will also vary based upon a few other players.
Smoak has a .800 OPS
It seems a bit unrealistic, doesn’t it? Let me lay out a scenario for you. Justin Smoak will replicate his typical walk rate of about 10% while finally posting a somewhat respectable BABIP. With a tad bit of luck, his OBP should sit around .350 in this scenario. In order to achieve his .800 OPS he will need to slug .450. This is a stretch for Smoak, but we know he has made some changes at the plate. If his Spring Training is any indication of his future, a .450 slugging percentage could just barely be in reach. He hit as many doubles in spring training as he did in five months in 2012. If Chris Johnson can reach a .450 SLG%, Smoak should be able to.
The team ERA drops
Considering that Hector Noesi won’t be pitching every five days in 2013, this somewhat bold prediction looks pretty good. I prefer Joe Saunders to Jason Vargas and I think Iwakuma will improve in his sophomore year. With some added experience in the bullpen, the team ERA is prone to drop in 2013.
The season attendance reaches 2,500,000 fans
The club has received a minor facelift, the ballpark has seen some remodeling, the promotions are stellar, and the weather appears to be wonderful; there is no reason why 2,500,000 fans shouldn’t enter Safeco Field for the first time since 2007. Get out and watch some games!
Happy baseball season!
A few weeks ago, the annual Mariner commercials came out. If you haven’t seen them yet, I would highly recommend you take a look here. As usual, they were quite funny, and they taught us some things like where Tom Wilhelmsen gets his cookies and where Kyle Seager finds his inner peace. However, there may be a few more important observations we can take away from the advertisements.
One thing we can look at is who was not featured in a commercial. The team doesn’t want to use players that they think will leave the team during the season, because otherwise they will have to stop running a commercial in July after the player in it is traded. A couple significant players were not used in this year’s batch of ads. The most notable were Kendrys Morales, Justin Smoak, Franklin Gutierrez, and Hisashi Iwakuma.
Kendrys Morales is on the last year of his contract with the Mariners, so the lack of his presence in a commercial seems to indicate that he may be put on the trading block before the trade deadline. Taking him out of the lineup would provide a plethora of possibilities for other guys like Liddi, Thames, Wells, Bay, Peguero, or even prospects like Zunino or Franklin.
Perhaps if Smoak has a good first half, the Mariners will see Morales as an unnecessary piece for the Mariners and try to swap him for some value at a different position.
That transitions us to our next player who got left out of the advertisements: Justin Smoak. Although Smoak has been named the starter at first base, the fact that he wasn’t used in an ad seems to say that his long term place on this team is not secure. As I wrote a while back, I believe the Mariners are giving Smoak his final chance, and that they won’t be afraid to part ways with him if he doesn’t produce. The commercials this year seem to support that assertion.
Another notable player who failed to make an appearance in the commercials this year is Franklin Gutierrez. This is the last guaranteed year on his contract, but he has a club option for next year. Because of this, we may see Guti traded to a contending team before the trade deadline. His skill sets could make him very valuable to a club like the Yankees, Orioles, Cardinals, or Rangers that have plenty of offense but could use a gold glove caliber center fielder to help their outfield. There is also a chance that the Mariners left him out due to injury concerns, since he seems to be unable to go a month without some type of setback.
Hisashi Iwakuma is the final key player that failed to be featured in a 2013 advertisement. It is quite possible that the language barrier prevented him from participating in a commercial. It doesn’t seem like he would be a likely guy to go on the trade block since he inked a two year contract with the club last year, but he probably will have some trade value; more so than any other Mariner starter besides Felix, at least. Perhaps if some combination of the big four is knocking on the door of the big leagues, Seattle will feel comfortable moving Iwakuma at the deadline.
Probable third starter, Joe Saunders, also didn’t appear in an ad, but this is not surprising since he has essentially no name recognition or marketability in Seattle and is only on a one year contract.
Before putting too much stock in who did and didn’t appear in a 2013 commercial, remember that other factors could have caused players not to participate. Perhaps they don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera, didn’t have the time, or maybe the marketing department just didn’t have an ad that they would fit in to. Regardless, these are just a few things from the commercials to keep in mind as we look towards the season.
Franklin Gutierrez has been tearing up the ballpark during the winter leagues. As a player who only played 40 games in 2012, it is great to see what this guy to do when health allows him to. Overall in the Venezuelan Winter League, Gutierrez batted .349. In the last four games he played, he batted .474. He also had 13 runs, three home runs, six doubles, and 19 RBIs in just 22 games. It seems like he did really well.
As Spring Training rapidly approaches, the biggest concern with Gutierrez is his health. If he’s able to keep up and stay well and uninjured, he could wind up taking the Mariners’ center field position, which would put Michael Saunders into one of the corner field spots. If he can keep up performance like he had in the VWL, well then, he could definitely be a strong point for the Mariners team.
Then there are those who see the good performance of Gutierrez as an opportunity to trade him for someone else. Geoff Baker at the Seattle Times thinks that by trading Gutierrez to the Los Angeles Dodgers, we could have a good shot at getting a reliable starting pitcher like Chris Capuano. The reason for this line of thinking is that Franklin Gutierrez started out as a Dodger, and the team was happy with him. Since he’s been performing well, it would make sense that they might be interested in taking him back – and perhaps willing to trade a left-handed starting pitcher for him.
What do you think? Should the Mariners trade Gutierrez or should they hold onto him as part of their team?
We looked on this season as Michael Saunders figured out how to be a valuable major league player; how Franklin Gutierrez continued to suffer from improbable setbacks, yet still produce a respectable line; and how Jesus Montero struggled to perform up to our expectations, among many other things that happened on the diamond. But how do we know what was real and what was flukey? Though sometimes it seems so long, a season is actually pretty short from a statistics perspective. I created the color charts this year—which attempt to show the levels of improvement and above-averageness—in order to help distinguish between significant observations and ho-hum observations.
These are the final two color charts for the 2012 season. First, the comparison to a player’s past performance. Remember that this chart compares a player’s stats from 2012 to his stats from as far back as 2009. The greener the box, the greater the improvement—or in the case of batted balls, the more often the outcome.
It’s important to note that some of these players, like John Jaso and Jesus Montero, didn’t have to play very many games in SafeCo in past years. Even guys like Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak and Saunders experienced what was deemed an even-more-difficult SafeCo Field this season. So when we look at Saunders’ large improvement in his power numbers—homeruns per outfield flyball (HR/FB) and ISO power—we should consider that improvement as an even more significant jump in talent that has a better chance of sticking next season.
I spoke not-too-kindly of Saunders earlier this season, arguing that he hadn’t shown anything of value to that point. He obviously read my post, and vowed to prove me wrong. In the above chart, Saunders’ row is almost entirely green, now. In fact, the only negative regression came in his outfield flyball rate. But really he just replaced flyballs with line drives and ground balls. For Saunders, this is probably a tradeoff that needed to happen, as we saw his BABIP climb from .262 to .297 this season. With his seemingly sustainable BABIP spike, in combination with a drop in strikeout rate (not shown in chart), his batting average came up from .196 to .247. It wouldn’t hurt if Saunders continued to get better, but his .247/.306/.432 slash line in 2012 was good enough for a guy with an above-average glove in center who also takes half his cuts in SafeCo field.
Saunders’ center field buddy, Franklin Gutierrez, has produced a solid BABIP the last three seasons, so his tradeoff of more outfield flyballs for less grounders was probably healthy. In fact, he pretty much just brought his flyball rates up to meet those of Saunders, and both those guys ended up with similar batted ball profiles, and almost exactly the same BABIP (.297 and .302). So while their changes were opposites, both players produced the changes needed to improve.
What we also saw from Gutierrez was mild improvement (light green color) in both his power numbers and his line drive rate. Though light green represents the least significant of improvements, it does represent some improvement. A guy still suffering from the effects of IBS and/or baseballs in his ear could probably not have exhibited any improvement, and that should be encouragement enough.
But there is no need for me to go through every player. The colors are a helpful way to quickly identify levels of improvement or decline for yourself! On to the league comparison chart, where I have used the colors to indicate a player’s performance relative to the rest of the league.
The player I wanted to point out here is Jesus Montero. His season has definitely been disappointing compared to expectations, and his inability to hit right handers is cause for concern. However, he only struck out 17% of the time (not shown), which is league average, and his HR/FB and ISO were very close to league-average. For a right-handed rookie hitting in SafeCo, league-average power is actually impressive. But the best thing we saw from Montero is probably his 24.6% line drive rate, quite a bit better than league average (moderately green box). SafeCo Field’s marine air shouldn’t do much to affect a player’s contact ability, and Montero posted nearly-identical line drive rates both home and away. But a BABIP gap of 54 points dragged his home numbers down, and with them his overall numbers. On the road, Montero posted a .295/.330/.438 slash line, good for a 113 wRC+. The contact skills are there, and they are more than just one shade of green above the league rates.
The Mariners have to deal with some serious issues before they can contend in the AL West, but we did see real improvement in Michael Saunders, we did see Franklin Gutierrez perform admirably despite injuries, and we did see the contact skills promised from Jesus Montero.
Going into 2013, to say that the state of Franklin Gutierrez’s body is important to Mariners fans would be an understatement. J.J. wrote on Saturday, “Guti scares the hell out of me,” and that probably sums up Mariners fans’ collective sentiments pretty well.
In 2009, Guti put up a .283/.339/.425 slash line on his way to a 6-WAR season. Since that season, Guti has been hampered by injuries and setbacks, and he has been worth less than 4 total WAR in three seasons (according to both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference). IBS, an oblique strain, and a freak concussion on a pickoff play can be blamed for much of his poor performance, but are these things that should worry us so much? I don’t think so.
I did some online research on IBS, and many sites such as this one suggest that IBS does recur periodically throughout life, but that the appropriate medication eases the symptoms. Guti is more than a year removed from his first bought with IBS, and we haven’t heard a thing about any recurrence. Guti has access to the best medication and treatment around, and thus he will likely experience the mildest forms of recurrence.
Thanks to the Dodgers’ trainer Stan Conte and this article in the Sun Times, I have a data set of 11 hitters that suffered oblique strains or similar injuries to kick off the 2011 season. Of those 11 players, not a single one has experienced another oblique strain (or it has not been reported in the case of the minor league players on the list). It even hard to argue that it negatively impacted any of the players beyond the time frame of the injury.
J.J. Hardy, for example, missed a large chunk of April and May in 2011 with an oblique strain. He came back to hit 30 homeruns and had one of the best seasons of his career.
After an oblique injury sidelined Erick Aybar to start the 2011 season, his 2011 and 2012 seasons have arguably been better than his career numbers—.743 OPS after versus .683 OPS before. And that doesn’t even take into account the league-wide decline of offensive numbers.
Corey Hart has posted an .860 OPS since his oblique injury, and recorded just an .817 OPS the two seasons prior to injury.
Curtis Granderson had a frickin’ MVP-caliber season after his pre-season obligue strain!
The list of positive recoveries goes on, and it’s encouraging, while the list of potential decliners is not something that concerns me much. That list includes just Jason Bay and maybe the former Angel’s prospect, Freddy Sandoval. Bay had already shown decline during the 2010 season before kicking of 2011 with a rib cage injury. His OPS+ dropped from 105 to 98 between the two seasons, hardly a decline to write home about. 2010 was Bay’s age-31 season, and he had already dipped significantly between 2009 and 2010. This suggests to me that his decline is more generally related to body deterioration, and not necessarily the rib cage injury at all. Plus, though similar according to the Dodger trainer’s list, it’s not exactly the same as an oblique strain. Bay was the worst comp on the list to begin with!
Freddy Sandoval has experienced a plague of injuries since being named a top prospect in the Angels organization a few seasons ago. It would be difficult to argue that it’s the oblique strain keeping him from making a splash in the majors.
Freak Pickoff Move Accident
This doesn’t happen very often ever. While one concussion can induce future concussions more easily, his risk of concussion is not that much higher now that it was before. No one on the diamond takes hits like catchers take hits, and luckily Guti is not a catcher.
Guti has suffered a range of setbacks that have rendered him a less-than-average center fielder over the last three seasons. However, these aren’t necessarily issues that are going to continue to render him subpar. Here is a comparison of some statistics between Guti’s 2009 season, and this season:
A player that was debilitated by the injuries Guti has suffered and still feeling significant effects could not do this—not even in 115 plate appearances. His K/BB rate remains virtually unchanged, and he’s hitting a few more line drives with very similar power.
I am very optimistic that Guti—with his gold glove defense that hasn’t gone away—will be a valuable, everyday center fielder in 2013. I think you should be optimistic, too.
I’m not going to lie there isn’t going to be much of a post here.
How unlucky does a guy have to be to defeat IBS, a pectoral tear, and plantar fasciitis just to go down with an errant pick off throw to the face? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like this. I think Mike Sweeney got one in the back, but I’ve never seen it in the head.
Baseball has unveiled some strange, strange things over the years, and believe you me, this is strange. But can baseball’s strange events please not occur at the expense of Franklin Gutierrez? I don’t know how much more his body can take.
Franklin Gutierrez hasn’t been back very long, ten games to be exact. It’s too early to deem anything a success, but it isn’t too early to say that Franklin has risen from the ashes red hot… at least to start.
Our expectations for Guti coming into spring training were soaring. Fans were flying high on reports of controlled IBS, and a rebuilt body. Guti was a ghost of his former self last season, when injuries weren’t keeping him off the field, he appearance was frail, skeletal, and unhealthy. IBS was taking its toll on our illustrious center fielder, and it was visibly apparent. So one would expect fans would be eager to see with their own eyes, to take in the rejuvenated body of Gutierrez for themselves. But in the blink of an eye, the new muscle tore and unless you owned a press pass and happened to be in the greater Phoenix area, you were unable to see the transformation for yourself. Even those who happened to be in Peoria throughout the early days of camp, were only able to view the reformed Guti for a short while before a shredded pectoral sidelined him.
Expectations died that day, and they died again when an unexpected case of plantar fasciitis cropped up during his rehab. The injuries were not only worrisome due to concern that the rebuilt muscle would have to once again be rebuilt, but also because Franklin would not have seen any baseball action going all the way into last season.
He has done all he can to put those worries to rest. Steaming into today’s game with a .286/.342/.486 slash line to go with a .200 ISO and a .359 wOBA and already has created half a win. Small sample size beyond a doubt, but I am in no way attempting to prove any sort of sustained success rather to make apparent a fact. There is no way to know where he is going to go from here, for all we know Franklin could go 0-20 from this point on, but it’s hard to ask for a better beginning.
Players returning from injury are not always fully healed. We have seen a very recent case of this with Mike Carp who has once again been placed on the disabled list with shoulder woes. This small burst of production from Guti may not prove his abilities for the season, but it does validate his health. He’s healthy, and reformed. His IBS for all intents and purposes, seems to be under control. We have no idea whether or not we will ever again see the 2009 form of the JJ Putz gem, but we do know that whatever production he provides, good or bad, we cannot pin any of it on IBS.
We can only hope that Gutierrez can continue to provide an offensive injection and perhaps add some stability to an extremely volatile line-up. These numbers, in their limited spectrum, are in way an indication of sustained success. They only indicate health. No matter how hot Guti may be, if he was still stricken with health issues these kinds of numbers would be impossible to produce. Franklin Gutierrez in healthy, and that in itself is plenty of reason for celebration.
People need to understand that there is not now, nor will there ever be, the existence of time travel. Think about it. If time travel existed, we’d already know. Someone from the future would have come to inform us. I’m sure of it.
Now I know we all cite Back to the Future as a guide of sorts for navigating the space-time continuum, but that’s a movie. It’s fiction. Sure, Doc Brown says you don’t go back in time and screw everything up by talking to your past self or blowing the secrets of time travel, but come on. Look at Marty McFly. The dude nearly had an aneurysm trying to play by the rules in 1955. And I consider him a unique human being. You really think your average time traveler would be able to go back and forth without effing everything up? No. No freakin’ way.
Personally, I’ve already made a pact with myself that if time travel does exist at any point in my lifetime, I’ll come back from the future at precisely fifteen seconds from now and let myself know. You’re probably wondering if I’m kidding. I am not. And guess what, I didn’t show up. So time travel doesn’t exist. At least not in my lifetime. Because if it did, I’d be talking to Future Me right now. Unless I die young. Like Tupac. In which case, I better start writing future-dated articles to be released posthumously. I want that weird, cryptic, he’s-still-alive-somewhere-I-just-know-it legacy. We should all want that. It freaks people out. And what better feeling is there than the one you get punking people from heaven? I imagine there’s nothing greater.
What does all this have to do with anything, you ask? Good question. I don’t really know. I’m still trying to tie that run-on intro into a piece about the Mariners. I really just wanted to talk about time travel for a minute, because I think we don’t talk about it enough. I feel like entire sitcoms could be based around the premise of time travel, instead of just one or two episodes (they always have one or two time-travel episodes) in the series. And don’t tell me Quantum Leap was really about time travel. The premise of Quantum Leap involved time travel, yes, but really it just served as a vehicle for Scott Bakula’s shitty acting career, which arguably peaked when he landed the role of Gus Cantrell in Major League: Back to the Minors, aka the Major League that no one watched. I suppose if the producers could go back and do it again, they might not have cast Cantrell in that role after all. Given the fragile state of Charlie Sheen’s psyche circa 1998 (I’m assuming it was fragile, since we’re dealing with Charlie Sheen, after all), when Back to the Minors was unleashed upon the world, they probably could have netted themselves Rick Vaughn if they had the wherewithal to press a little harder. Then again, they half-assed the entire production of the third Major League. For Christ’s sake, Taka Tanaka had his Metrodome scenes green-screened. How do you green-screen someone into a movie and think no one watching will notice? That takes moxie. Stupid, stupid moxie.
Wait, I’ve got it. If the Mariners could go back in time, I bet they’d change quite a bit with their current roster. You think they’d still offer Chone Figgins a four-year, $36 million deal in the 2009-2010 offseason? Not when they could have re-signed Adrian Beltre for one year at $9 million. And what about the Cliff Lee deal? You figure they still pawn him off on the Rangers for Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, and Josh Lueke? Smoak has struggled since arriving and Lueke is already out of town, having been dealt to the Rays for the rainbow-colored unicorn that is John Jaso this past offseason. Beavan is quickly becoming a reliable starter, but Lee is still in the upper echelon of pitchers in Major League Baseball. Not as promising a deal as was once imagined.
I’m not gonna say hindsight is 20/20. I think that phrase is ridiculously cliche. Of course hindsight is 20/20. No one from the future came and gave us 20/20 foresight, those dicks, so yeah, we can certainly see clearly looking back at the past. Stupid. Anyway, here’s a look at three more less-heralded recent do-overs the Mariners might want to consider. If they were able to piece together their flux capacitor, that is:
1. The drafting of Josh Fields
Blame the Bill Bavasi regime for this one. That dumbass Vincent Price look-alike was crazy enough to choose a closer with his 2008 first-round selection. Who the hell does that? There have been picks we’ve all questioned after some time has passed — the No. 3 overall selection of Jeff Clement in ’05, for instance — but never has one pick been so openly scrutinized right from the get-go as the Fields pick was four years ago. Consider that players taken with the next 20 picks after Fields include the likes of Cleveland Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, Kansas City Royals pitching prospect Mike Montgomery, and Houston Astros starting pitcher Jordan Lyles, among others.
Whatever happened to Fields, anyway? Great question.
Now 26 years of age, the right-handed reliever is currently pitching for Boston’s Double-A affiliate in Portland, Maine. As part of the trade that sent Erik Bedard to the Red Sox a season ago, Fields helped land the M’s current minor league outfielders Trayvon Robinson and Chih-Hsien Chiang, a transaction the team may very well not regret going forward.
For now, though, the one truth we hold to be self-evident is this: the drafting of Josh Fields was an epic, epic failure. Into our DeLorean and onto the next…
2. The trade of Brandon Morrow
Okay, I’ll admit, this one’s a little tougher to justify. In exchange for Morrow, who was seemingly stuck in mediocrity here in Seattle, the Mariners netted closer Brandon League and minor league outfielder Johermyn Chavez. It’s too early to tell what may become of Chavez, but obviously we know all about League. The hard-throwing righty has become the anchor in the team’s bullpen. Whether as a setup man his first year, or a closer last season, League has been fairly reliable for an otherwise underwhelming ballclub.
But here’s the thing. A closer on a losing squad is like a bow on a second-hand gift. What good is it, anyway?
League might be an All-Star, but it matters little for how seldom he’s called upon to slam the door on opposing lineups. So my question to you is this: Would you rather have a solid closer who will likely be dealt at some point in the future, or a hard-throwing starting pitcher who could be considered a part of your future? On a potential cellar dweller like the Mariners, the answer should be the latter. Which is why dealing Morrow would have to at least be reconsidered if we were to do it all over again.
The problems Morrow had with the Mariners can be blamed, once again, on the Bavasi regime. The organization mishandled their 2006 first-round pick, grooming him as a starter, fast-tracking him to the big leagues as a reliever, then juggling him between ‘pen, rotation, and farm system for the ensuing three seasons. Was it worth it? Hell no it wasn’t. Had the team allowed the now-27-year-old to mature in the minors over time, he could be among the game’s elite right this very minute. Instead? Well, now he’s a middle-of-the-rotation guy for the Toronto Blue Jays. Which, many would contest, is still more desirable than either of the goods the M’s received in exchange for their former prized possession.
3. The non-trade of Franklin Gutierrez
In 2009, Franklin Gutierrez’s first season with the Mariners, the center fielder batted .283/.339/.764, with 18 home runs and 70 RBI. Just one season later, in 2010, Gutierrez’s averaged dipped nearly 40 points, to a much-less-impressive .245, while his OPS plummeted nearly a Benjamin, down to .666 (foreboding, I know).
Guti’s 2011 campaign was injury-riddled and much, much worse than anyone could have expected. A .224/.261/.534 line, with a lone dinger and just 19 RBI, barely made the 29-year-old worthy of a job. Only a few months removed from that disaster, the man once dubbed Death To Flying Things sits idly on the Disabled List as he works his way back from the latest in his string of physical maladies.
While Gutierrez was obtained for pennies on the dollar in what shall forever be known as “the J.J. Putz deal,” his value, like that of a once-proud stock, has been severely mitigated over time. In the fall of 2009, the Mariners’ could have received a kings’ ransom for the then-26-year-old. Instead, they opted to dedicate the future to their investment. Rather than reward them for their faith, Guti failed to validate the team’s trust in him, as his offensive statistics have slid remarkably ever since.
Yes, he’s a popular, marketable figure for the organization. But that alone shouldn’t cloud anyone’s vision of what Gutierrez has become. With a litany of talented young outfielders fermenting in the minor leagues, the time has come to bid adieu to the defensive stalwart that Franklin Gutierrez truly is. Unfortunately, Guti’s seemingly-imminent departure will come just a few seasons too late to be anything but negative.
The Venezuela native is signed through next season, and barring a resurgence of remarkable proportions, 2013 will mark Gutierrez’s last stand in a Mariners uniform. He will likely hit the free agent market after that and become some other team’s fourth outfielder for the remainder of his career. It sounds bleak, yes, but fair or unfair, it’s the reality of the current situation.
Face it, the team should have flipped their center fielder some time ago. They didn’t, and now they’re paying the price.
As for me, what would I do if given the luxury of a time machine and the chance at a do-over? Easy. I’d enact vengeance upon those who had wronged me over the years. Not anything real bad. Just little spiteful paybacks. Like the kid who bullied me in preschool. Would an adult from the future hesitate to push a four-year-old off the big toy? Not for one single second.
Filed under: Mariners
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
So there are a lot of details that we could get into and a lot of ways to take today’s game. We could talk about how the pitching sucked or we could talk about how the hitters are finally getting zoned in and finding their swing. Then again I think … [visit site to read more]
The following coversation took place between me and myself during one of my long walks back from work yesterday morning/early afternoon. It’s kind of distrubing and it violates one of the things I recently said I wasn’t going to talk about but now … [visit site to read more]