It’s no secret that the Seattle Mariners are in big need of some strong offense. General Manager Jack Zduriencik is very active at the 2012 winter MLB meetings in Nashville, Tennessee.
Rumor has it that there are three prospects for pitchers for the Seattle team: Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker who may be up for trade when the Mariners go batter-hunting. While the Mariners do have some funds freed up to pick up a free agent this year, they may still need to pull some trade strings to get someone who will work hard for their team. It boils down to a big decision for the Mariners’ team management: Trade away young, unproven prospects for players that have shown their stuff or spend more money on their payroll for the roster.
With attendance falling, and confidence in the team low, the pressure is on for Zduriencik to build a team that can compete. A lot more than bringing in the walls at SafeCo Field is necessary in order to develop a winning team. The question is, will the team be able to gain the members it needs in order to compete against big-budget teams like the New York Yankees?
If the Oakland Athletics could pull out of a slump to become the AL West Champions this past year under the logic put forth by the Billy Beane Moneyball tactics that changed the face of baseball, perhaps the Mariners need to start thinking in an out-of-the box way as well.Who will get on base, and more importantly, once on base, who will be able to get home for the all-important score?
Some of the players the Mariners are rumored to be interested in include:
- Josh Hamilton
- Justin Upton
- Mike Napoli
- Nick Swisher
- Cody Ross
- Ryan Ludwick
- Mark Reynolds
- Garrett Jones
A lot of this will be contingent upon how much the M’s are able to put forward financially and who they are willing to trade for the various players on their wish list. What do you think the beloved Seattle team should be looking at in order to get to a pennant win in the 2013 season?
Tags: 2013 Season, Baseball General, Danny Hultzen, featured, Jack Zduriencik, Major League Baseball, Oakland Athletics, Popular, Safeco Field, Seattle, seattle mariners, Trade Theorys, winter meetings
It is reasonable to take a look at the job Jack Zduriencik has attempted to do since being hired as the General Manager for the Mariners on October 2008 after the dismal failure and horrific tenure of GM Bill Bavasi who put together the first team with a 100 million-dollar payroll to lose 100 games in a season.
Zduriencik’s first quote was this: “I’d love to have guys with good makeup and good character, committed to the city and the ball club. But, when all is said and done, talent wins.” Let’s see if his words match his actions.
He made a big splash immediately after naming Don Wakamatsu as manager by trading closer J.J. Putz and prospect Luis Valbuena for Franklin Gutierrez, Endy Chavez, Mike Carp and Jason Vargas. In retrospect, this could have been an all-time tremendous trade if some freakish injuries had not happened to three of the four players involved. He got a star centerfielder in Gutierrez, a decent, fast, slap-hitting left fielder perfect for Safeco in Chavez, a young left-handed stick in Carp and a dependable, serviceable starter in Vargas. Unfortunately, Chavez tore up his knee in a terrible collision with then shortstop, Yuni Betancourt, and was out of the picture. Gutierrez has been cursed with injury after injury which has limited his involvement and been an awful blow to the rebuilding plan. Carp, once given some regular playing time, responded by showing he could handle big league pitching before fighting the injury bug this year. Vargas has become a damn good pitcher and a key part of an effective pitching staff. Without the injuries, this was a great first move by Jack Zduriencik.
He looked like a genius when under Wakamatsu’s guidance the 2009 the Mariners improved from the embarrassing 2008- 61-101 season to a 85-77 winning mark. Ichiro hit .352, Guti had an impressive line of .283 average, .339 OBP and and OPS of .764 and played all-star defense, Chavez was hitting .273 and stealing bases before getting hurt. Jack’s signing of veterans Mike Sweeney and Ken Griffey,Jr, who split the DH duties while helping to change the culture and clubhouse atmosphere, worked out beautifully. New GM Jack looked like a genius with a Midas touch.
Unfortunately, the team fell off the cliff in 2010 and ended the year with the exact same 61-101 record as the pathetic 2008 team. Zduriencik fired Wakamatsu, Griffey and Sweeney were gone and Wedge was hired.
Let’s look at Zduriencik’s moves:
Free Agent signings:
Chone Figgins for the 2010 season to replace Beltre—36 million for three years.
This signing was hailed as a great one as Figgins seemed to be a perfect fit for Safeco and many fans were enthused to think about having a combo of Ichiro and Figgins at the top of the order. He hit .259 with an OBP of .340 and stole 42 bases. These figures look pretty good compared to current Mariner standards but they were way below expectations. Then came the 2011 season where Figgins looked disinterested and lost. He ended up hitting .188. Looking backward, this signing appears to have been a disaster but at the time, it was agreed by all the experts as an outstanding move. Is it fair to blame Zduriencik for Figgins turning from a speedy, competitive near All-Star to a scrub in such a short time? Figgins decline was so sudden and dramatic that it was and still is shocking. This signing has to be graded as a “F”.
Miguel Olivo-two years at seven million.
This player had played for several teams including the Mariners in 2005 and had always struggled at the plate. His skills and problems were already a given. He was known to be a tough, hustling competitor with a good arm, a history of being the league leader in passed balls each season and a wild swinger whose career OBP is one of the lowest in history as is his walk to strikeout totals which are astonishingly bad. Olivo is a classic decent backup catcher with a good work ethic. He is not a starter as the Mariners already knew. This signing was curious with the thinking, I guess, being that with all the young kids and pitchers a veteran presence was needed. He does play the game hard and seems to be a good team member and positive clubhouse guy. But was that worth 3.5 million a year? Using him as a DH is laughable. I give this signing a C-.
Hisashi Iwakuma-for $1.5 million guaranteed, plus an additional $3.4 million in incentives linked to starts, innings pitched, and awards-
This was a good gamble as Zduriencik got a more than capable major league pitcher for very little money. The guy has been stellar the second half of the season after Manager Wedge finally gave him a chance to perform. This was a B+ signing and could become an “A” if he is resigned for a reasonable amount for a couple of more years.
Kevin Millwood—for one million for one season-
He has done okay for a 37-year old and his signing has proven to be reasonable. He ate up a bunch of innings and filled a hole, allowing other pitchers to develop. I give this a B.
Munenori Kawasaki–$625,000 for one year-
His dancing in the dugout, pushups, huge leads off first base, and obvious love of the game alone make this signing an “A” in my book. He has become somewhat a joke to a few but this guy is one hell of a fielder. He has made zero errors this year while filing in a second and shortstop. He is a better over-all player than most people think. I would have given him more chances to play. He has been a pleasure and a more than decent bench player for the money.
Tom Wilhelmsen—is making only $482,900 after Jack took a chance on him.
This guy was a decent starter in the minors until he tested positive for pot twice in one season and was suspended. He was out of baseball completely but Jack found him somewhere and he has turned into a star. This was a piece of brilliant scouting by Jack and deserves an “A++” for taking a working bartender and giving him another chance. I actually think he could be a decent starter, but people will think me crazy for that thought. Great move here.
He is now gone but was also pulled off the scrap pile, signed as a free agent for next to nothing, and has proven to be a good reliever. Jack chose to trade him for yet another young outfielder, Eric Thames. The jury is still out on that move. But the signing of Delabar was another “A” move.
Trades by Zduriencik:
Gutierrez, Chavez, Vargas and Carp for Putz and a prospect was a definite “A”.
Cliff Lee, Mark Lowe and cash for Matt Lawson, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Justin Smoak. This trade looks like a loss until one factors in that Josh Lueke turned into John Jaso, which saved this for being a disaster. I thought throwing Lowe into this trade was unnecessary as he was and still is a good arm in the bullpen. Lawson and Lueke were busts. Beavan may turn out to be an okay fifth starter for a bit and what can one say about the centerpiece of this trade—Justin Smoak? This big, strong, switch-hitting, lefty first baseman with great defensive skills advertised by experts as a potential power guy seemed like a fine move. Next year will prove once and for all if this trade was worth it. Smoak’s performance has been way below expectations and he cannot seem to learn to hit off-speed pitches. This trade’s grade is an INC. at this stage but looking like it may turn out to be a “D” if Smoak remains what he has been.
This has to be graded as an “A” for Jack as the Mariners received the best defensive shortstop in the majors for a weak pitcher. If Ryan could only hit .230 or so. My Lord, could someone get with this guy and teach him how to hit? That ridiculous open stance has got to go. Someone should teach him how to choke up and punch the ball to the right side all the time. But still, his defense is unbelievable so his hitting woes can be forgiven.
I hated this trade at the time because Fister was a young, proven starter under team control for years. My attitude has not mellowed completely over time, either. Martinez and Ruffin have shown nothing. Casper Wells started off great until getting beaned by one of Morrow’s fastballs. He has never really been the same since. His has a great arm, good range but does not appear to be a consistent major league hitter, although in his defense, Wedge’s use of him has bordered on criminal. Furbush has been a pleasant surprise as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen but was that worth a starter? I give this trade a “D”.
At first blush, this seems to be an obvious winning trade for the Mariners as both Pineda and Campos got hurt. However, if they both return to become decent pitchers then what? Montero has proven to be a beast of a hitter against left-handers but below average against righties. He will never be an everyday catcher and this was known by most experts. So we got a part-time catcher and DH. Noesi cannot seem to learn what to do when ahead in the count with hitters. He is looking like another Ian Snell. If Pineda returns to All-Star form in the future what will this trade look like then? Campos was also a highly-rated arm. We needed another bat but is Montero going to be all that he was advertised as being? This trade’s grade is an INC.
John Jaso for Josh Lueke -
This is an “A” all the way and the best trade Jack has made. Jaso is the Mariners’ only legitimate hitter in this lineup at the moment, when he gets to play. Lueke was more than worth the price. This move took some of the sting out of the Lee trade.
This is a trade that deserves no grade. Robles is still young and may have some value. Luke French was given a few chances but is in the minors again.
Last, was the Ichiro trade for two minor league pitchers to the Yankees.
It is hard for me to be objective but trading off Ichiro was probably the right thing to do. Making him play on this losing team at the end of his career and taking abuse from ignorant fans after all the years of stardom here did not seem compassionate, kind or fair. But I will give this franchise zero credit unless they spend every damn cent freed up by moving my idol next season. Every cent….
After all of these moves what is the verdict? We got a star center fielder in Guti, if he could stay healthy. His back luck has inhibited the progress of this team. The Mariners have gotten two decent bats in Montero and Jaso but nothing more in the hitting department which is why the team is the American League’s worst hitting team for four years in a row now. Getting Ryan for nothing was a great move. Jack got Jason Vargas in the same trade that landed Guti -another fantastic move. Those are the good changes but there is another side of the coin.
Seattle got a lefty specialist for bullpen use in Furbush and nothing more for a proven starter in Fister. The Mariners gave away one of the top starters in the league in Morrow for League who did have one good season as the closer but then washed out.
One must ask what the Mariner rotation would look like with Felix, Vargas, Fister, Morrow the top four. Add in Iwakuma or Ramirez or even Millwood as the fifth starter and wow….what a dynamite rotation. This doesn’t even include Cliff Lee and what exactly did Seattle end up with in that trade?
Do we have a first-baseman or not? It looks like not after Smoak’s continual struggles. But could Carp, also acquired in Jack’s first trade, stay healthy and hit? He is still young as is Smoak. All in all, the trades have not accomplished much, thus far, partly due to back luck with injuries and partly due to prospects never developing. “Trader Jack” gave away three star pitchers and received little in return. None of the trades got a power bat or even a high average hitter. I give his trades a C-, at best, at this point in time.
Draft picks by Zduriencik-
2011—-Danny Hultzen, Carter Capps and Brad Miller—grade? Who knows? Capps has an electric fastball and has done more than okay in his short audition. Miller is a shortstop that can hit but is not mentioned much. Hultzen had real trouble in AAA after dominating AA. Could he become a dependable starter? He better considering that he was the second player taken.
2012—Mike Zunino alone makes this an “A”. I give Jack and his staff credit for figuring out that Jesus Montero would never be a catcher to build a team around. Zunino is both a defensive and hitting star and tore up the minors.
Draft summary—The Mariners have gotten two infield starters in Ackley and Seager and two bullpen power arms out of the four Zduriencik drafts so far along with a handful of good-looking prospects. If Mike Zunino becomes a solid catcher and Hultzen improves his control enough to become a long-term part of the rotation then one would have to give high marks for his draft picks.
Jack picked a winner in this category with Lucas Luetge who has filled a spot in the bullpen wonderfully as a left specialist.
Signing Oliver Perez has to be rated as an “A” gamble as he has become a reliable lefty out of the bullpen. One of Jack’s best moves.
In summary, many of Jack Zduriencik’s moves made sense at the time. He has been unlucky.
Gutierrez’s multiple injuries could not be predicted. Figgins was once a great, versatile player whose skills dried up at a stunning speed. His signing of Sweeney and Ken Griffey, jr were excellent moves that changed the clubhouse the first year. It was a hard call on what to do with Junior in his last year and it do not end well, but who knew? His hiring and then firing of Wakamatsu was curious and more than a few of us wonder if Wedge was and is that much of an improvement. Ackley was thought of as a can’t miss player coming out of college and Smoak was high-regarded as a potential powerful star. Who could have predicted that both would struggle so much? Ryan forgetting how to hit above the Mendoza Line is frustrating as he was never that terrible before coming to Seattle. Luckily, his drafting of Kyle Seager has been a beam of sunlight for the franchise and it looks like Jesus Montero will be a good hitter in the future.
He has put together a very fine pitching staff and signed Felix to an extension (by far his best move). He has pieced together a bullpen that has been excellent and could get even better. Giving Wilhemsen a chance was brilliant as was giving Luetge a shot and two of his draft picks, Capps and Pryor, are on the squad already firing their near-100 heaters past hitters. Jack also has a developed a collection of young arms in the minors some that could develop into good major leaguers. He deserves credit for that and also for the the defense he has put out on the field. It is incredible. This group has made only 61 errors all year.
But the hitting woes cannot be ignored. There has been very little progress in runs scored, doubles hit, hitting for average, on-base percentages, in fact , the team has been last in nearly every offensive category for three years now. The Mariners averaged 3.17 runs per game in 2010, the fewest by an AL club since the introduction of the DH in 1972. Last season, the M’s averaged 3.43 and this year they are “up” to 3.76.
Time is ticking on Jack. Let’s return to his statement at his first press conference.
I’d love to have guys with good makeup and good character, committed to the city and the ball club. But, when all is said and done, talent wins.
Has he done the job he was hired to do? Has he improved the talent? Is it time to fire him and move on? No, not yet is my answer to all three questions. He has not done the job he was hired to do but he could if players perform. He has improved the pitching talent, and the defensive talent that is true. But his efforts at improving the talent on offense have not worked.
His plan should be given one more year before a different approach is tried. This team cannot continue to put on pathetic offensive shows each night. That is how you get 13,000 people in the stands at a stadium that averaged near sellouts in the days when they did have talent. The team’s average home attendance has declined from 35,983 in 2000 to this year’s 21,719 a drop-off of 14,264 per game.
Thank goodness there is still Felix around to draw some fans.
Thanks to some work by Matthew over at Lookout Landing, we can safely assume the Mariners will have around $15-20 million to spend on free agent talent next season. Matthew also suggests that people like me will suggest how to spend that money. I will oblige.
First, a look at what positions are filled, with whom they are filled, and expected production:
|Total||Smoak on the Thames||
Those questions marks in the final three pitcher slots could be filled internally by any combination of Blake Beavan, Hector Noesi, Danny Hultzen, Erasmo Ramirez, or even Andrew Carraway. But Beavan and Noesi have already shown us that they are not very good, and the others have little-to-no experience at the major league level.
If Seattle wants to build on the success of this season and take an outside shot at a playoff spot next year, it would helpful to get a few better pitching options, as well as upgrades at first base and at least one outfield position. This is where Jackie Z’s spending money comes in, and these are some options I like (given the weak free agent class, and the difficulty of drawing hitters to SafeCo).
I looked at both first and second base options (with a potential Ackley move to first), and there’s just not a lot to choose from in the 2013 free agent class. The Ms may have to evaluate how best to use Mike Carp, Justin Smoak and/or Jesus Montero at that spot. The sooner Zunino is ready the better, because I have a feeling that Montero could be the man at first.
Outfielder Conor Jackson has been wasting away for the White Sox AAA affiliate, slashing .285/.374/.437 in 340 plate appearances. His career walk percentage sits at 10.1%, and his strike out percentage is just 11.7%. He derives his value from contact and patience, and thus being a right-handed batter won’t ding him as much in SafeCo. Jackson would also serve as a great platoon partner for Eric Thames, a lefty, as both players have conventional splits. Jackson could probably be had for $3-4M per season, having spent this entire year in the minors.
Francisco Liriano is just two seasons removed from a Cy Young caliber 2010 campaign. His fastball velocity is back up this season—nearly two full miles per hour on both his two and four-seamers—and he’s only going to be 29. Signing Liriano to a longer deal wouldn’t impede our young pitchers since Vargas becomes a free agent for the 2014 season. He could probably be had for something like $25 to $30 million over 3 years ($8-10M per year).
Zach Duke has spent much of his career in Pittsburg, with recent stops in Arizona and Washington. The National’s league-leading starters have kept him in the minors all season, and he will be a free agent this off season. Zach Duke is a pitch-to-contact lefty (4.64 K/9) that gets more groundballs than most (49%) and doesn’t walk too many batters (2.44 BB/9). So take Jason Vargas, subtract strike outs and add some groundballs. On the road, away from the friendly, SafeCo-like confines of Pittsburg’s PNC park, Duke gave up a few more ding dongs than one would expect for a 49% groundballer, but he was able to limit the damage more so than Beavan or Noesi, for instance. At 30, Duke isn’t likely to fall off the cliff, nor is he likely to cost a lot since he’s spent the entire season to this point in the minors. The Mariners could probably get him on a one or two-year deal at $4-5M per season, which would allow Paxton and Walker some time to mature.
These signings would likely cost the Mariners between $15 and 20$ million, and would improve the team next year without impeding any growth or committing too much money to players in a weak free agent class. Sure it would be nice to get an impact bat like David Wright or Josh Hamilton, but those players are going to cost a lot, are probably going to want long contracts, and aren’t likely to want to spend time in SafeCo field with so many other suitors.
In light of yesterday’s trades, not so much as a peep was heard out of the Mariners’ front office this afternoon, even with the trade deadline looming. Following yesterday’s 4-1 win over the Blue Jays, the team shed Brandon League and Steve Delabar for some outfield depth and a Double-A reliever.
The first name dropped was that of Eric Thames, a 25-year-old left fielder in the middle of his second major-league season. Thames (pronounced as it appears, not as the ancient British river) debuted last spring for Toronto, where he batted .262/.313/.456 in 95 games and 394 PA.
In 2012, Thames saw 46 games with the Blue Jays before being optioned to Triple-A, where he boosted his wOBA from .281 to .403 and his BABIP from .308 to .383 in just 54 games. Defensively, he has been used exclusively as a left fielder this season, holding a .989 FIP and a single error in 456.1 innings.
On the heels of the Mariners’ second swap during a series (albeit one not quite as dramatic as Ichiro’s departure), news broke that the Dodgers won the Brandon League bidding war. In his place, they sent two low-A prospects: outfielder Leon Landry and RHP Logan Bawcom.
Landry holds a respectable .328/.358/.559 line in 80 appearances with the Dodgers’ high-A affiliate. He split his 2012 season in left and center field, putting up a respective 1.000 FP in 58 chances and .990 FP in 103 chances. Currently, Landry holds a 6-game hitting streak, his most impressive performance a 3-home run explosion against the Padres’ Lake Elsinore Storm.
Logan Bawcom, a 23-year-old Double-A reliever, was the Dodgers’ 17th round draft pick in 2010. Like Landry, Bawcom has one year of minor league service under his belt, and just a handful of appearances for the Chattanooga Lookouts in 2012, where he posted a 2.60 ERA and 2.88 FIP. In his trade round-up, Larry Stone relayed some scouting reports from Keith Law and Baseball America, both of whom pegged Bawcom as promising but far from solid:
Bawcom, he [Law] says, “might surface as a middle reliever, but his command right now would make him an up-and-down guy. Despite some tail on his fastball, he doesn’t generate enough ground balls to survive without cutting his walk rate.”
However middling the prospects, it looks like a win-win for both sides, and a relief to have Brandon League off the shoulders of the Mariners. With several corresponding roster moves to make, the team sent Carlos Peguero back to Tacoma, and recalled relievers Stephen Pryor and Carter Capps.
Capps has seen just one game in Tacoma, striking out 3 of 4 batters in 1.1 innings of relief. He capped a 37-game stint in Double-A earlier this season with 19 saves, a 1.29 ERA, and a 1.63 FIP in 49 IP.
The Mariners have not seen Pryor since June 12, when he injured his groin on a play at first base. Since then, he has made 7 appearances for the Rainiers, allowing 6 hits, 4 walks, and no runs in 8 IP.
If there wasn’t a nice match, I wasn’t motivated to do something that would take away from where we are currently,” Zduriencik said. “We’ve played decent baseball lately, we have pieces here for the future, and in order to make a move, it would have to be the right thing to do.
For now, it looks like a smart move on his part. As long as Millwood remains in the rotation, he buys Hector Noesi more time to develop in Triple-A. And even though teams passed on the pair today, there could be a trade in the works by the offseason. These may not be the blockbuster moves we hoped to see, but for the price of never having to watch League play in Seattle again, I think the Mariners did just fine.
Tags: Brandon League, Carter Capps, Eric Thames, Hector Noesi, Jack Zduriencik, Jason Vargas, kevin millwood, Leon Landry, Logan Bawcom, Mariners General, miguel olivo, seattle mariners, Stephen Pryor, Steve Delabar
I recently experienced a draft of my own. On July 8th, 2012 my son came into the world, and just as teams make there first round selections with as much knowledge as possible, there is still a shroud of enthusiastic mystery surrounding the pick. I knew I was having a boy, but only the infinite wisdom of time will tell me what kind of “selection” this son of my has given me.
Sodo has taken a back seat to reality, and for that I would like to apologize, but this vacation is nearing its end. Much has happened in my absence. The Mariners have made a few moves, including the demotion of Hector Noesi, and the recalling of Carlos Peguero. Both players have been covered extensively by the crew here at Sodo. We had high hopes for Noesi, and while the pure stuff is enough to make Noesi a relativity decent pitcher, his lacking of intelligence has failed him. Not to say that Noesi isn’t intelligent, for all I know the man is an expert physicist, but when it comes to pitching smarts, Noesi is lacking. Likely a product of his shuffling around in the Yankees organization, he just never learned the simple rules of even just wasting a 0-2 pitch. Iwakuma has then slid into the rotation spot vacated by the suddenly intriguing, but now injured Erasmo Ramirez. An fascinating list of untouchable players was released, enigmatically missing the recently acquired and offensively capable Jesus Montero.
The team seems to be in the constant state of flux. The lineup has dawned a different face seemingly everyday ensuing the All-Star Break, an occurrence that figures to worsen as several players are reinstated from the disabled list and the trade deadline comes and goes.
All this time we have figured the window of opportunity to be 2013 and maybe ’14 at the latest. But that window seems to be slipping further and further away and with it, Jack Zduriencik’s job security. Justin Smoak is teetering dangerously on the edge of a bona fide bust. Jesus Montero and Dustin Ackley are mired in less than stellar to terrible seasons, Gutierrez continues to be plagued by unfortunate injuries, Hector Noesi has much to learn, and Miguel Olivo has been given every opportunity to prolong his playing time here in Seattle. We knew this season was going to be rough, but we had hoped to witness a bit more progress than just the appearance of Kyle Seager, Casper Wells, and Michael Saunders.
The rays of hope are thin indeed, but it’s not going to spell the end just yet. We still have Franklin, Hultzen, Walker, Zunino, and Paxton to look forward to. The some pieces haven’t worked out, but that doesn’t mean the thought process behind acquiring them was wrong. We can only hope that from here on out, the Mariners show some signs of life. Building up momentum for next season has never been more important than now.
Top 11: Reasons The 2012 Mariners Are Worse Than Your First Sexual Experience (aka, Your Mariners Midseason Failure Analysis)
The 2012 Mariners have been an abomination. They are Paris Hilton acting, combined with Lindsay Lohan singing, mixed with Gilbert Gottfried speaking, blended together with any of the Real Housewives screaming (“You’re supposed to be my friend, Tamra!” Well, you’re a crazy bitch, Vicki.).
Think of the worst things you’ve ever been a part of, then make them more boring than they were at the time. Like, your first sexual experience, for example. That was horrendous, was it not? Trust me, it was. You may not want to believe it was…but I guarantee you, it was bad. Which isn’t to say that you haven’t corrected yourself in the bedroom as time has passed. Frankly, it’s not easy to take what you’ve learned in health class and put it to good use. A two-dimensional vagina looks nothing like a three-dimensional vagina. They don’t tell you that, though. You have to figure that out on your own. On the fly. As a kid.
Anyway, I digress.
My point here is that if you took your frighteningly awful first sexual experience and made it boring on top of what it already was, you’d have the 2012 Mariners. The M’s are the awkward clumsiness of teenage body parts clashing together as one, the requisite forced “I love yous” that follow, the feeling of regret, the saline of tears, and that fear of “OhmygoddidIgetherpregnant?!” – yeah, that fear is real – topped off with all the pizzazz of the Vanilla Sky plot. I hope that sounds as horrible to you as it does to me. Personally, I found “awkward clumsiness of teenage body parts clashing together as one” to be the most horrible line.
Let’s call this midseason report card what it really is: a failure analysis. Not only that, but let’s list out 11 of the reasons the team is failing. We can do this. It’s on par with belting a Hector Noesi 0-and-2 fastball right over the outfield wall. So much easier than it may seem.
11. Steve Delabar is not a Major League pitcher, yet has been tasked with pitching in Major League Baseball.
Not that it’s particularly fair to single out an average middle reliever, but let’s face facts here: the Mariners are the proud parents of a 16-year-old son, Steve, who they have naively handed a brand new BMW. Steve, in turn, has promptly rewarded his ‘rents for their stupidity by wrapping said BMW around a pole. This is essentially the relationship between the M’s and Delabar, who has been entrusted to throw in 29 of the team’s first 87 games this year.
Delabar is a great Triple-A pitcher. He throws fast. An upper-90s heater is nothing to mess with. But in the bigs, fast just doesn’t cut it. The man tosses a four-seam fastball that sits flatter than Renee Zellweger. Big league hitters are paid to unload on flat fastballs no matter how rapidly they may be approaching home plate. And if you look at Delabar’s numbers, the data reveals just how detrimental his Zellweger-ball has been to the club.
In his 29 appearances, Delabar has managed to piece together a .174 Batting Average Against, to go with a neat little 0.92 WHIP. He’s also struck out 41 hitters. Not bad by any means. But then you look at his ERA. And everything falls apart. Not unlike Tom Cruise in the aforementioned Vanilla Sky.
Despite his miniscule BAA, WHIP, and all those Ks he’s collected, Delabar owns a robust 4.45 ERA. Egads. When you dig a little deeper, you find that of the 29 hits he’s relinquished this year, 10 have gone for extra bases (that’s 35-percent, for you math majors out there), and eight (eight!!!) have gone into the stands for home runs. And get this: while Delabar has only been credited with 15 runs allowed, he’s let 17 men score on home runs alone! So not only is he hurting his own earned-run average, he’s directly impacting the respective ERAs of his teammates due to all those inherited baserunners.
Delabar should have been demoted long ago — and in fact he was, in June, before resurfacing with the Mariners in July — yet continues to languish in the big show. Is it time to send him down for good? Probably. Will the M’s do it? Unlikely.
10. Franklin Gutierrez and Mike Carp are fragile.
Okay, maybe not fragile, per se. But injured nonetheless. Though if anyone can think of a better adjective for Guti, I’d like to hear it. Fra-gee-lay. It’s Italian.
Both Gutierrez and Carp were being counted on to comprise two-thirds of the team’s outfield, while playing substantial roles for the 2012 M’s. Instead, both began the year on the disabled list…and both remain on the disabled list currently. For those of you keeping score at home, allow me to clarify that that’s two DL stints apiece. Each player made his not-so-triumphant return to action, only to see his season hit another roadblock with a second physical malady. Such is the life of a professional athlete.
By the time both players return (again) to the playing field, it will be far too late to salvage an all-but-lost season. But alas, there’s always next year…
9. Brandon League is crap.
Let me just go on record as saying I’ve always despised Brandon League. Even when he was moderately successful a year ago, it was tough to like the guy. I’ve chronicled my displeasure for his lack of testicular fortitude many times on these pages, so there’s really no need to elaborate. Let’s just say that he and I don’t see eye to eye where mental toughness is concerned.
With that said, you won’t find too many Brandon League fans anywhere these days. League has been absolutely abysmal, blowing six saves in 15 opportunities and standing idly by as he was given Rick Vaughn’s Major League II role of pitching in garbage-time situations. In less-tenuous moments, League has been slightly more tolerable than he was as a late-inning implosion-waiting-to-happen. Still, though, how valuable is a relief pitcher that can’t pitch when a win hangs in the balance?
According to the rest of Major League Baseball, that value is not perceived to be very high. Which is unfortunate. Because the Mariners would like to trade League, and yet there aren’t many suitors for his not-so-desirable skill set.
A year ago, the story was much different. League was a top-notch closer who was flat-out getting the job done. The franchise could have flipped the hard-throwing right-hander for a bounty of prospects. Instead, they held onto their asset in hopes of God-knows-what. And twelve months later, here we sit with a fistful of Enron stock.
Perhaps that’s the greatest tragedy in the entire Brandon League saga. The Mariners didn’t have to be burdened by League’s presence. They chose to be. They had the opportunity to sell their investment at its peak value, and they politely declined. That is such a Marinery Mariner thing to do.
8. Hector Noesi needs to learn how to pitch.
Somewhere around age 13 or 14, I learned that as a pitcher, when you get ahead in a count 0-2, you should never throw the ensuing pitch anywhere near the middle of the plate. Hector Noesi, apparently, did not learn what I learned.
In reality, it’s fairly common knowledge to most baseball players that 0-2 pitches are best served away from the strike zone. As a hitter you learn to expect a “waste pitch” 0-2, yet you still remain extremely defensive and vigilant with a lone strike standing between you and bitter disappointment (leading to an increased likelihood of you, the hitter, putting the ball in play if it is remotely close to the zone). As a pitcher, you want to deliver a ball that’s near-unhittable, while potentially baiting your bat-swinging foil into chasing a pitch outside his coverage area. It’s a tactic familiar to most, but foreign to a guy like Noesi.
Noesi is one of those pitchers who scouts would say has great “stuff.” What is “stuff,” exactly? Basically, “stuff” amounts to a pitcher’s ability to combine a lively fastball with a decent supplementary repertoire. “Stuff,” as it turns out, often equates to talent. Which is to say that Hector Noesi is quite talented. At least in his physical ability to manipulate a baseball.
Where Noesi is not quite as talented comes in his ability to either a) learn, b) remember, or c) execute. He either hasn’t learned to hurl 0-2 pitches away from the batter’s preferred locale, doesn’t remember he needs to do that, or simply can’t execute such a simple task.
To better assist him in learning, remembering, or executing, the M’s recently demoted Noesi to Triple-A Tacoma. The fact that the 25-year-old native of the Dominican Republic managed to last in the team’s starting rotation through June can either be attributed to Noesi’s vast array of “stuff,” or more likely, a testament to the team’s perennial suckitude.
Either way, had Noesi remained a big leaguer for the duration of the year, he would have been hard-pressed to avoid Jamie Moyer’s single-season team record of 44 home runs allowed. With 20 souvenirs deposited into the seats at the hands of the righty, Noesi was in danger of setting all kinds of marks in longball futility.
But wait, there’s more.
Getting back to that point about 0-2 counts, it should be noted that one-fifth of all the homers Noesi has allowed have come when he was ahead 0-and-2. Twenty-percent wouldn’t seem like such a drastic number, until you figure that home runs on 0-2 counts almost never happen. Seriously. Google “home runs allowed on 0-2 counts.” The first search result that appears? An article on Hector Noesi. I kid you not. He is that synonymous with this statistical anomaly.
Let’s hope that somewhere down the line Noesi figures it out. When it comes to being a big league starter, he has a little work to do. At the very least, though, he’s got the right “stuff.”
Yes, that was a very dumb New Kids on the Block reference. You’re welcome.
7. The offensive exploits of Brendan Ryan and Justin Smoak are sadly disappointing.
Brendan Ryan hasnever hit, so this comes as no surprise. Were he to fall haphazardly from a canoe, there’s no guarantee he’d hit water. That’s how bad of a hitter he is. So bad that I’m resorting to cliches to describe him.
Justin Smoak, on the other hand, was supposed to be a hitter. He was once an über-prospect with a potential All-Star bat on his shoulder. Instead, he’s been nothing short of a complete disappointment during his near-two-year stint in Seattle.
Though no hitter in the Mariners’ lineup is particularly adept at putting bat on ball, Smoak and Ryan have been dismally bad in their offensive efforts this season. While Ryan’s defensive prowess warrants playing him most days, one has to wonder how long any team can continue trotting out a sub-.200 hitter, no matter how fancy his glovework may be.
With Smoak, the failure is more evident. From each side of the plate, the switch-hitting first baseman displays a long, loopy uppercut that isn’t conducive to line drive balls in play. Sure, it may be easy to send Smoak to Triple-A to work on his approach, but why not put hitting coach Chris Chambliss to work and fix the physical nature of an all-but-broken swing? That’s what hitting coaches are paid to do, is it not?
By contrast, there is nothing that will conquer Ryan’s demons in the batter’s box. He’s not a big league hitter. Thankfully for him, though, he’s an above-average big league defender. Essentially, he’s the white Rey Ordoñez.
Should two of the M’s regulars continue to hover around the Mendoza Line all season long, it’s no wonder this team will find itself in the cellar yet again.
6. Jesus Montero is slower than…
He is the ultimate liability on the basepaths. Honestly, I have never seen a slower 22-year-old that wasn’t morbidly obese. This guy would get lapped at a retirement home. They should give him a Rascal scooter to ride around the diamond. You have to wonder if his legs are okay, or if he was once stricken by polio. I’m guessing he may qualify for the Special Olympics. It takes him an hour to run 30 minutes on a treadmill. If he got caught on second base during a rain delay, he’d drown. His 40 time is measured by a sundial. Vultures circle his home run trot.
Okay. You get the picture. Jesus is slllllloooooowwwww.
5. Why is Chone Figgins still here?
Chone Figgins may in fact be the luckiest man on the planet. He is making $9 million to be an ineffective super-sub. He really should be playing in someone’s farm system, if not a slow-pitch softball league somewhere. He is the most reviled sports figure Seattle has ever had the privilege of hosting. And yet he continues to fester on the Mariners’ bench like a gangrenous rash on the bedridden underside of a man so disgustingly fat he must be removed via forklift from his decrepit home.
There are so many things wrong with Figgins’ mere presence that I barely know where to start.
Why, for one, did this organization ever think they could resurrect this tiny little flea’s career by batting him leadoff? What on earth has Figgins done in the past few years to warrant a move atop the lineup? And did anyone not see the impending backfire? It was bound to happen. This is Chone Flippin’ Figgins! He’s terrible!
Two, where did this team get off trying to tell us that Figgins, and not Kyle Seager, would be our third baseman to start the year? Seager has emerged as one of 2012′s pleasant surprises — and he wasn’t even supposed to be a starter! His time in the lineup is due in part to a slew of outfield injuries, as well as Figgins’ own impotence. Were it not for extraneous factors, we wouldn’t have even known what Seager was capable of this season.
Three, when Miguel Olivo returned from the disabled list, why did the team not seize the opportunity to release Figgins? Why, instead, did they send their current best-hitter-du-jour, Casper Wells, to Triple-A? Wells did not need to go to Triple-A. He simply went because someone found some reason to keep Figgins on the roster.
Not only has Figgins been a bust himself, his staying power has impacted or was destined to impact the development of others, such as Seager and Wells. With each passing day that Figgins remains a Mariner, he’s taking chances away from a younger player who could benefit from service time at the big league level. There’s no longer any excuse for keeping him around. Cut Figgins. It should have been done months ago. This is getting ridiculous.
4. Miguel Olivo is toast.
Miguel Olivo seems like a pretty decent guy. He tries hard, he hustles, he’s scrappy, and in interviews he appears to be quite pleasant. As a baseball player, however, Olivo is probably not cut out to play at the major league level any longer. And that’s the unfortunate reality of this situation.
Olivo is just 33 years of age, but he may be the most ancient 33-year-old on the earth’s surface. Maybe it’s just me, but the guy seems to move around with all the spryness of an older Jesus Montero. He’s also balding to a severe degree, and on top of that is a grandfather. Really. He’s a 33-year-old grandpa.
When Olivo isn’t putting children on his knee, rocking himself to sleep in a La-Z-Boy, or drinking Metamucil, he’s batting an anorexic .201 and letting roughly every other pitch find its way between his loins. Olivo is not so much a backstop as he is a gatewayto the backstop. He has a problem catching. Which is quite the dilemma, since his job title calls for him to, you know, catch.
Perhaps if Olivo was some sort of defensive saint like the apostle Brendan Ryan, the Mariners could find excuses for keeping him in the lineup each day. Alas, his defense is just as vomit-inducing as his Ryan-esque batting average. So why does he retain duties as the team’s primary catcher? That’s a great effing question that no one seems to have the answer to.
I like Olivo as a person. I’d like it even more if we could bid him adieu and wish him well as he rode off into the sunset. Presumably in an Oldsmobile.
3. The decision to replace Dustin Ackley as leadoff hitter is the SINGLE WORST DECISION the organization has made this year.
Yes. It really is. And I don’t have much else to say. Why you would demote a guy doing a great job for one performing below-average is beyond my comprehension level.
The Mariners have stunted Ackley’s growth by replacing him atop the batting order with Ichiro. Ichiro won’t (or at least, shouldn’t) be on this team next year. Ackley has the talent and ability to be the face of this franchise within the next five years.You interrupted his development to fulfill the selfish needs of a 38-year-old outfielder who has no future with your team.
This is just unbelievable.
The Mariners, more often than not, exhibit the dumbest Goddamn behavior. Serenity now…
2. This team can’t hit at home.
Blame the fences. Blame the marine layer. Blame the batter’s eye in center field. Blame whatever you like.
The fences don’t need to be moved in. The weather doesn’t need to be controlled. The roof doesn’t need to be closed. The backdrop doesn’t need to be altered.
The players. The players need to get better. And that’s just the fact of the matter. Better players equal better results. And these players are not good enough. Period.
1. Trusting Jack Zduriencik is becoming increasingly more difficult to do.
This is Year Four of the Jack Zduriencik era. In three-and-a-half seasons, the Mariners have posted a 249-324 record (.435 winning percentage) with Zduriencik at the helm. They are on pace to lose between 90 and 100 games yet again this season. The farm system is coming along, but so far hasn’t produced much of note for the big league club. In Jack We Trust, as a result, is starting to lose its luster.
The disclaimer here is that Zduriencik may or may not be handcuffed by his bosses, the notorious duo of team president Chuck Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln. Armstrong and Lincoln have cast a shadow over this franchise for years, and to think that they have no impact on the current state of the team would be incredibly naive. Their roles have been discussed ad nauseam, both on this website and in other forums, so no need to digress. The fact is, when evaluating someone like Jack Zduriencik, one must carefully consider the impact of the men responsible for overseeing the entire operation. Fair or unfair, however, it’s time we placed some blame at the general manager’s doorstep.
When Zduriencik came aboard in 2009, the cupboard, as the saying goes, was bare. The farm system was depleted. The talent on the big league roster was minimal. The present was disappointing. The future was bleak.
What Jack Z. was tasked with at the time was rebuilding an entire organization, top to bottom. There’s nothing easy about that. He adequately got the job done in certain areas, pulling off a signature deal by offloading J.J. Putz, Sean Green, Jeremy Reed, and Luis Valbuena in exchange for Franklin Gutierrez, Mike Carp, Jason Vargas, and a couple minor leaguers.
While Putz has reemerged in Arizona as a closer, he is nowhere near the pitcher he was when he was in Seattle. Green and Reed have essentially become irrelevant, and though Valbuena reached the bigs with Cleveland, his impact has been minimal.
Gutierrez, Carp, and Vargas have all played significant roles with the Mariners since their arrival. Though none of the trio has really approached stardom, no one can argue that all three have been relatively solid and met, if not exceeded, expectations.
The Putz deal, as it will forever be known, has become Zduriencik’s hallmark for the past three-plus years. When supporters of the Z movement want to call out the man’s penchant for unearthing talent, they point to this deal as the one that stands above the rest.
There have been other deals that have seemingly worked in the Mariners’ favor during Zduriencik’s tenure. The trade of Doug Fister and David Pauley (who the Mariners re-signed to a minor league deal on July 12th) to Detroit for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Chance Ruffin, and Francisco Martinez. The heist of Cliff Lee from Philadelphia in exchange for three seemingly irrelevant prospects. The swap of Michael Pineda and Jose Campos for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi.
But there have been a handful of duds, as well.
Sending pitcher Brandon Morrow to Toronto for Brandon League and minor league outfielder Johermyn Chavez has had its up and downs; Morrow’s development as a Blue Jay, though, would indicate the Canucks got the better end of the deal.
Pawning Cliff Lee off on Texas for Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, and Josh Lueke hasn’t worked out nearly as planned. Smoak, as we all know, hasn’t developed the way anyone thought he would. Beavan appears to be, at most, an okay back-of-the-rotation starter. And Lueke, though his stay was brief, might be the biggest surprise of the deal thus far, as he netted the team catcher John Jaso in a subsequent trade this past offseason.
Signing Chone Figgins to a multi-year contract has certainly been a bust. Dealing Carlos Silva and cash for Milton Bradley was a complete disaster. A real sadist might bring up the fact that the M’s let 2012 All-Stars Bryan LaHair and R.A. Dickey go before they really developed. And then there are the moves that weren’t made.
The biggest failures of the Zduriencik era, in my mind, are those transactions that never occurred. This organization has a knack for holding onto players after their peak value has elapsed. League, as mentioned above, is one of those players. The same could be said for Erik Bedard and David Aardsma, two additional pitchers who the M’s relinquished for pennies on the dollar. The lack of foresight to perceive a player’s decline has been an obstacle the Mariners’ front office must overcome.
Additionally, there appears to be a certain aversion to risk among the Zduriencik regime. The players the team tends to acquire are those who many onlookers would say are “safe.” They possess low risk, and in turn offer a lower reward. They are not flashy. They are not potential superstars. They’re simply destined to become adequate major leaguers, at best, that get the job done on a day-to-day basis.
Perhaps the three most recent examples of this can be found in the team’s high first round draft picks: Dustin Ackley in 2009, Danny Hultzen in 2011, and Mike Zunino in 2012. Though the jury is still out on all three of these guys, it’s been deemed by the speculative gallery that none possesses quite the same sizzle as other players in their respective draft classes. Ackley and Hultzen were taken with the second overall picks in their drafts; Zunino was selected third overall. If any of these players fails to provide either a) measurable impact with the Mariners or b) an equitable return on the trade market, you can expect Zduriencik and Co. to lose their jobs sooner rather than later. With such an emphasis on the farm system during the Zduriencik era, such lofty draft picks must produce — and produce at a high level — for the current management group to be successful.
I want to believe in Jack Zduriencik. I want to trust the movement. But what have Jack and his cohorts given us to be happy about since 2009? There isn’t much, and with another 90-plus-loss season on the horizon, time, unfortunately, is running out for the organization.
Filed under: Mariners, Top 11
Last July Jack Zduriencik traded Doug Fister and David Pauley to the Detroit Tigers for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush and Francisco Martinez. At the time Fister was 3-12 here but as we all know now he went on to go 8-1 down the stretch for the Tigers and became somewhat of a fan favorite in Detroit. Meanwhile back at the ranch Charlie Furbush has been converted to an adequate left-handed reliever and Casper Wells languishes on the bench. So tonight turned out to be sort of a groundhog experience for Fister as he made his first start coming off the DL against his old team.
After watching the lanky Fister hold the Mariners scoreless for eight innings tonight there is no doubt in my mind that this deal was not one that Jack Z. can brag about. Not that many fans I know have any ill feelings towards Fister, nor do I think he has any animosity towards the Seattle Mariners or the fans but after tonight’s meltdown in the ninth by Octavio Dotel to allow the Mariners to come back and win 3-2, I’m sure Doug Fister doesn’t miss Seattle a bit.
Just like in his days here Doug Fister pitched a masterpiece and got only minimal run-support that just didn’t hold-up thanks to a clutch double by Montero in the ninth along with some wild pitching by the veteran Dotel and a game-winning RBI sacrifice fly by John Jaso to drive the stake into Fister and the Tigers collective hearts.
This was the sort of Mariners game that sucked for eight innings then became a blast for about 15 minutes as I was writing this post! The win is the fourth straight over the Tigers this year and may be enough to get me down to Safeco Field tomorrow night to see if we can keep it up.
The Mariners need this sort of game now and then to make this whole fan thing bearable for as you can see in Geoff Baker’s article today :The perils of rebuilding: how “the right way” in theory can be absolutely the wrong way in real life the fan support for the Mariners is dwindling and reaching a crucial tipping point these days after so many disappointing seasons.Tonight’s thrilling game was a good start! Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
I’d love to have guys with good makeup and good character, committed to the city and the ballclub. But, when all is said and done, talent wins.
- Jack Zduriencik
If you ever believed in Eric Wedge, it is time … [visit site to read more]
2011 Regular Season Record: 10-13, 5th in A.L. East (1.5 GB)
2011 Regular Season Record: 8-15, 4th in A.L. West (6.5 GB)
Friday, April 29 – Jason Vargas vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka
Vargas so far has started the season with an ERA over five and a half. But don’t be fooled. Vargas has been pretty good this year. Posting a FIP of 3.21 and an xFIP of 3.85. Right now he’s been unluckey with leaving runs on base only 59% of the time while league average 71%.
His fastball has been very ineffective this year as he hasn’t been able to spot it as well. But his slider and change-up has improved not just in useage but also in effectiveness.So expect to see a lot of his wicked slider against a very left handed Red Sox line-up.
Normally a flyball pitcher he has seen an drop in flyballs and an improvement in ground balls. Vargas is due for regression and this regression is a positive thing for Seattle.
Dice-K is coming off two consecutive wins that were two dominant starts. In face he’s only given up 2 hits in his last two starts. His latest was against the Angels when he threw 8 scoreless innings. He’s looked like the Dice-K of old that won 18 games during the 2008 season with complete control of his pitches and getting ahead of almost all batters.
Saturday, April 30 – Doug Fister vs. John Lackey
Fister has been pretty decent this year. The last few years he’s been a contact pitcher. But so far this year he has seen a lot of swing-and-misses with his curveball. I don’t know if this is something new that I missed but he has over two more k’s per 9innings than he did last year.
He ran out a very good ERA early last year but had a good sized disparity between it and his FIP. This year his FIP/xFIP is 3.00/3.95. He pounds the lower half of the strike zone with his two-seamer and induces good many grounders because of that (49%).
Fister has been the subject much inquire among Mariner fans. Is he for real or not? I think Fister is getting better and if that’s the case he could be more than just a serviceable 4/5th starter.
Much like Dice-K, Lackey started the year with two awful performances. He was scary to watch and you didn’t know when his next flat pitch would be up and over the plate. But, his last 2 starts have been quite the opposite. He’s pitched 14 innings, allowing 10 hits, fanning 9, while only surrendering 1 earned run. With Buchholz struggling, the Red Sox need Lackey to pitch like he did in the 2009 ALDS when he dominated the Red Sox and possibly pick up 15 wins this season.
Thursday, April 28 – Felix Hernandez vs. Clay Buchholz
It’s good to be King. Felix has struggled a bit in each of his outings and is looking to find his groove. He has seemed to be able to find that groove quiet often in Boston. It’s something about the Boston/New York area that just gets Felix pitching big.
He’s still striking out guys getting plenty of ground balls and keeping the ball in the park. The only problem is guys just keeping getting hits at bad times. He’s leaving runners on base only 60% of the time. Meaning he’s run into some bad luck.
His ERA of 3.32 looks good but looking at his FIP it’s a scary 2.84. Felix is easily one of, if not the best, pitchers in all of baseball.
Things appear to be a tad off with Buchholz to start the year. He’s been effective in some outings but even then hasn’t appeared to completely on his game like he was last season. His last start against Baltimore he gave up a career high 12 hits in the game in just over 6.2 innings. He was saddled with the loss in that game and saw his record drop to 1-3 on the year.
- Jacoby Ellsbury – after being moved back to the leadoff spot earlier in the road trip, Ellsbury has found his swing and his stride. He’s fresh off back to back 3 hit games in Baltimore and his average is now .264 which is far better than where it was for most of this early season. He’s riding a 7 game hitting streak as the Sox return home.
- We all knew what was coming with Justin Smoak. Pretty much the best hitter on the Mariners team. There was a few concerns coming back from his time away from the team, that he may take a bit of time to find the groove again. 4 - 11 with 2 hrs, 8 RBIs and 2 walks.
- Ichiro is finally finding his grove and is 5-15 in Detroit.
- Miguel Olivo had been cold but hit 7-13, 2 HR (1 assisted by Ryan Raburn) and 3 RBI’s during his time in Detroit.
- Pauley pitched 4 innings in Detroit. Struck out 3, got 4 ground ball outs and surrendered 0 Runs and only 2 hits. He’s pitching above his head and I’ll admit that, but I make no apologies for my love of David Pauley.
- Both Red Sox Catchers – yes, both Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are struggling offensively which makes Terry Francona’s decision on who to play that much more difficult. Varitek got back to back starts in the first two games in Baltimore and more playing time hasn’t meant an improvement at the plate. He’s batting .097 on the year, which is just 3 for 31. Salty’ has seen his average jump over .200 but he still struggles to get the big hit when the Sox need it.
- Jack Cust: Has only hit a few balls hard in the last couple weeks. In his last 10 games he is 7-36 with 0 home runs 3 RBI’s and a walk-to-strike out ratio of 7-15. His ability to the ball in the air has been a serious problem and right now he’s looking to be done. I wish the very best for the guy but I’m kind of grim on his future.
- I’ve been preaching patience with Brendan Ryan (1-11 in Detroit). He’s been the opposite of Jack Cust spraying quiet a few line drives over the last couple of weeks that just have been very unlucky. I hope to see positive regression soon. But then again he could just go the whole season like this, just as he did last year.One positive is the amount of pitches he’s seen over the season. Last year he saw 3.71 pitches per plate appereance. This year its up to 4.55 and it’s resulted in nearly doubling his walk percentage.
- Chris Ray has so far given up 10 ER on 13 hits, 2 walks and 2 strike outs in 6.1 Innings pitched. He hasn’t been good this year. But let’s look at the positives. 36% of all runners been left on base, he’s gotten 52% ground balls and yet his BABIP is .444. He may not be a good pitcher but he’s not this bad. When David Ardsma comes back it’s going to be between Ray and Tom Wilhelmsen as to who is headed either to AAA.
David Aardsma 15-day DL *
Shawn Kelley 60-day DL **
Mauricio Robles 60-day DL **
Adam Moore 60-day DL **
Franklin Gutierrez 15-day DL *
- * Not on Active Roster
- ** Not on 40-Man Roster
Junichi Tazawa 60-day DL **
- * Not on Active Roster
- ** Not on 40-Man Roster
Sodo Mojo to BoSox Injection
Q: Does Josh Beckett have everything all worked out?
A: It would appear that Beckett does have his mojo back. His latest start he gave up 2 home runs to Baltimore before being bailed out in the 8th inning and took a no decision on the contest. For most of that game and his last 3 he’s been the Beckett of old as he’s in control of hitters and hasn’t given up that big inning that lingered him most of the year last year. His off speed pitches have been effective and his heat has been spot on the corners when he needs it. After a first rough outing to start the year, the former World Series MVP has gone 29.0 innings, giving up 20 hits, 10 earned runs while walking 9 and striking out 32 batters. Beckett is a lot of fun to watch when he’s on and he’s renewed that confidence in Red Sox Nation to a point where everyone once again is curious to see what type of dominance he’ll show in his next start.
Q: What do you make of the lack of top shelf talent in the minor league system? Are you worried about how the minor league system has emptied out?
A: There’s no question that the Red Sox gave up a lot of young, highly skilled prospects in order to get Adrian Gonzalez over the winter. But with Gonzalez now locked up for the next 7 years, one expendable prospect is first baseman Lars Anderson. Anderson has been regarded as a potential big league bat with a lot of pop who can play good defense. He should get looked at by many clubs come June and July. The other promising positions still in Pawtucket is in the outfield. Ryan Kalish, Daniel Nava and Josh Reddick all proved they can play in the big leagues last year thanks to an injury plagued season for the Red Sox outfield. The Red Sox also have their shortstop of the future in Jose Iglesias still in AAA which then makes either Jed Lowrie or Marco Scutaro expendable. The promising factor for the Red Sox organization is that they’ll have 4 of the first 48 draft picks this year, thanks in part to Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre signing as free agents with Detroit and Texas respectively. Given the Red Sox track record when it comes to drafting and molding quality talent, I am confident that they’ll replenish their minor league system.
Q: What happens to Ryan Kalish? Does he replace JD Drew as the every day player in the outfield next year or is he a piece to help the Sox win this year?
A: As it stands right now, JD Drew is the everyday right fielder for the Red Sox. He’s all but come out and said that he’s retiring after this season and even if he decides against hanging ‘em up, he’s in his last year of his contract with Boston. Given Kalish’s talent, it’s a safe bet that Drew won’t be back next year. In terms of this year, I wouldn’t expect to see Kalish up with the Red Sox at any point this year as he recently suffered a sprained left shoulder and partially torn labrum. Kalish is optimistic he can avoid season ending surgery, but even then he’ll miss a tremendous amount of playing time and will need a fair amount of rehab.
BoSox Injection to Sodo Mojo
Q: There was a lot of speculation last summer on whether or not the Mariner’s would trade Felix Hernandez come the trade deadline and they didn’t move the Cy Young winner. After the Yankees lost out on the Cliff Lee sweepstakes this winter, again there is much speculation that the Yankees will go out and trade for King Felix by July. Is it reasonable to think this is an option for Seattle and if so, what do the Yankees have to offer that the M’s would be interested in?
A: Is it an option? Of course it is. Will Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik listen to offers? Most likely, it would be silly not to. But, the likelihood of Felix actually being traded is so far removed from the realm of possibilities. The return that they would have to, NEED to, have is so huge that few if any teams would be willing to pay it.
Just as an example of what Felix has done so far in his 7-year career. He has already won 74 games, surpassed the 1000k mark and has won a Cy Young. Yet he’s a year and half younger than Clay Buchholz. The guy is beyond epic and the fact that he wants to be in Seattle just puts icing on the cake.
As has become the Lookout Landing Saying “Felix is ours and you can’t have him.”
Q: How has newly hired manager Eric Wedge adjusted to the job as Mariner’s GM and what does he bring to the organization that made him the front runner for the job?
A: I like him for the simple fact that he’s not afraid to rattle the players cages. He really let the guys have it a week ago after a big loss to the Jays and he expects 100% effort from every guy on the ball club. No excuses. Guys have to earn their jobs and have to play to keep them. It just seems like there is a competitive fire with the guys that wasn’t there last year. You can’t see it in a box score but it makes watching the games more exciting and I like that. I attribute that to Wedge and his crew.
Q: Justin Smoak has been touted as the next big bat for the Mariner’s. Now that he has 20 games in at first base and with his numbers impressive, is he the real deal?
A: Short answer he’s real.
Long answer is that while he’s going to be good and he’s going to be worth the Cliff Lee trade. He’s not the second coming of Mark Teixeira and those comps aren’t fair to him. He’s not a good enough fielder and while he has above average raw power I don’t know if he’ll ever have the power or the bat control to be a comparable hitter.
Enough of beating up on the kid. He’s really adapted. After coming over to Seattle last year there was a lot of skepticism as he struggled. But, after spending time down in Tacoma he has come back with a vengeance and has made the adjustments to be big time hitter. He’s going to hit over .270, he’s going to hit 20+ home runs and he’s going to be a middle of the line-up staple for a Seattle Mariner team that is destitute of such things. I can’t wait to see him blossom because he’s still not all there and that as a Mariner fan is exciting.
Take a look, if you haven’t already, at Geoff Baker’s blog over at the Seattle Times. I know there are a lot of people that avoid it in the blogsphere but his interview with John Hart (former General Manager) and Dan Pleasac (former MLB pitcher) is very enlightening and it kind of comes back to a lot of what we (as a blogsphere) have been saying the last few years.
Just a few things to take away from the interview.
A) PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE,
Rebuilding is a process. While most of us know this we need to get this through the Mariner family’s mind. It’s going to take time to see this team rise to prominence. They have have a couple of years in the near future that puts them in that “80″ win category and it feels so close. But patience! The goal isn’t 84-85 wins, it’s 95-100 wins. It’s not just a division, it’s a World Series.
B) A closer at this point is over valued.
I like Aardsma and League, but should they build some positive value this year, I’m not opposed to seeing them traded. We got some young arms that have potential and we don’t need to be paying them a combined 10 million dollars next year. Let Cortes and Lueke battle it out.
C) “Leadership” and Chemistry is overvalued.
Does it exist? Sure. We’ve all seen examples of it within our work centers and places of business. But should is it the difference between the team being .500 and losing 100+ games? Absolutely not. People invest too much money in the “Sweeney theory” and it results in poor seasons and frustration.
It’s about putting solid talent out there that can win ball games. Winning teams have winning chemistry. Not the other way around.
D) I still disagree with the sentiment that playing “small ball” can’t win you games in the American League.
Yes, the American League by nature is a tougher league to pitch to because you don’t have the pitcher in the line-up and you have a designated hitter in his place. Obviously this is going to change the way you approach a line-up. But that doesn’t mean the opposing team can’t put together 4 runs by just consistent hitting. I’m not saying you put 9 Chone Figgins in the line-up.
Bradley, Kotchman, Gutierrez and Lopez were all expected to produce more than 15 home runs each. Sure, I’ll agree that’s not a menacing line-up. But if Bradley gets a single, and Casey works a walk, etc. It had potential.
E) The Mariners have a shot to be a .500 team.
Will they post a winning record? Not necessarily. I, as well as many others around the blogsphere, have posted some sort of projection based off Bill James, PECOTA or some other “smart”system. We pretty much all agree on roughly 70-75 wins. Do they have a shot at .500 sure, heck there is an outside shot the team wins the AL West. But it’s like less than 2%.
Just remember there is a reason we play the games. Figgins could come out of now where and post a career year along with Jack Cust. Justin Smoak, Michael Saunders and Adam Moore could blossom into what we thought they could be, and we get a whole year out of Erik Bedard. Watch out. Who knows where we could go.
But, then again Figgins could just continue to drop, Ichiro could finally hit his wall and Gutierrez could prove he’s offensively not an every day player. Smoak and Saunders might fail as prospects, and injures come all over the pitching staff.
Just temper your expectations the next COUPLE of years. There are going to be more frustrating moments than memorable ones, and that’s okay. That’s where we are as an organization. But we are moving forward and we need to support our team regardless of wins and loss totals, regardless of let downs and disappointments. This is our team and we will have our moment in the sun. Just remember, patience!
Tags: Brandon League, Casey Kotchman, Chone Figgins, David Aardsma, franklin gutierrez, Ichiro, Jack Cust, Jack Zduriencik, Jose Lopez, justin smoak, Mariners General, Michael Saunders, Milton Bradley
It took 10 innings and 13 runs on 18 hits for the Seattle Mariners to pick-up their first win of the 2011 Spring Training season 13-12 over the San Diego Padres down here in Peoria on this cloudy and chilly day. Josh Bard the veteran catcher drove-in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 10th with a bases loaded single up the middle in front of a small but lively crowd who were on their feet as the 3-2 pitch with t down was served-up to Bard.
Outside of the impressive first inning by Mariners Pitcher Erik Bedard, this game was all about offense for both sides as the respective managers just kept sending out young pitchers to get battered. The Mariners offense was more lively than I can remember in any game last year with a bunch of guys coming-up with clutch hits including Jack Wilson who had a couple of base knocks that drove in runs for Eric Wedge and his scrappy club.
But 24 year-old outfielder Carlos Peguero had perhaps the biggest day of all the M’s with his 2-run homer with two down in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game and send it into 10th inning. In the Padres half of the 10th Peguero threw a bullet from left to nail the potential go-ahead run for the Padres at the plate in dramatic style, allowing Josh Bard to knock home the winning run in a game that lasted almost 3 1/2 hours. Carlos Peguero hit 23 dingers down in AA West Tennessee to lead the league, and at 6’5” and built like an ox he stands a good chance of pushing a few of the AAA guys we all know of out of the way, if he can keep playing like he did today.
After watching today’s game I am starting to believe what Jack Zduriencik has been talking about in regard to the Mariners bright future. Peguero along with Johermyn Chavez who also played in AA last year, are both on the 40 man roster, and I can see why now. I have a hunch that guys like Michael Saunders, Greg Hallman, and Mike Wilson better keep an eye on these youngsters or they may get left in the dust.
Again I want to reiterate that Erik Bedard looked smooth and in total command in the first inning as he struck out 2 Padres and got the third out on a routine grounder. This is potentially great news for Seattle as from the looks of the rest of the guys who threw today including Luke French, we will be needing Bedard to complete the starting rotation. Franklin Gutierrez and Jack Cust were not in the lineup today and hopefully I will get a chance to see them play in tomorrow’s 1pm game here in Peoria.
On a side-note I ran into a few familiar names in Mariners history in the stands today, one was Rick the peanut man who has been with the club since the begining and is always a fun and comforting figure to be around. The other two were none other than Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong who were sitting close to me. I have pictures and video clips of all three and may try to get them up later tonight after I come back from dinner.
It was a fun and invigorating day for Jeff’s Mariners Fan Blog today down here in Peoria as the Mariners put on an offensive display that hopefully will continue the rest of the season! Go M’s….www.jeffsmariners.com
Things were pretty loose down here in Peoria today and thus I got a chance to get up close with Rick Rizzs and Jack Zduriencik and tried to have a meaningful conversation with these two public figures. I have run into Rizzs several times over the years and as you will notice in the clip he is a pretty open and honest guy off the air. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik on the other hand is a bit more elusive and prone to give out sound-bites in order to protect the organization.
It is hard to say what really is going on with this organization after all we have been through in the past year, but I would venture to say that a lot of people at the top are ready to move on with 2011. Actually that is fine by me as the game of baseball is always moving forward with familiar patterns and rhythm’s which is probably why it is so soothing these days in a world full of turmoil. I would not go so far as to say there is confidence in the air down here in Peoria this year, but there is certainly a feeling of a club preparing in a tight and well orchestrated manner. This of course is a tribute to the Mariners new manager Eric Wedge who manages to appear both loose and intense at the same time, which is the perfect state of mind for a baseball team and it’s players.
I am looking forward to the game tomorrow afternoon so we can begin to get a picture of how this team is going to shape-up in 2011. I am enjoying my trip thus far though I must say this whole Arizona thing does not sit well with my Maritime background. This is a fine Port to visit every Spring, but I am glad that my Home Port is Seattle. This area has been ravaged by the housing bust ,and the summers of 110 degree weather are not what this old sailor would consider to be a Snug Harbor.
I grabbed a seat 5 rows behind home plate for $23 so look for me if you happen to be watching this first game of the long voyage tomorrow. Till then….smooth sailing.Go M’s! www.jeffsmariners.com
The longer I watch, write about, and discuss baseball with my peers, the more confused I become by the knee-jerk reaction crowd. After last season, I heard countless callers, and saw many comments around the blogosphere where people were asking why Jack Zduriencik’s job was secure after such a terrible losing season with an absolutely abysmal offense and a clubhouse full of cliques. I’m going to sound like a jerk here, but all I could think was “What is wrong with all of you?!”
While the 2009 Mariners only overachieved by a few games, fans have yet to grasp the magnitude of just how much the 2010 Mariners underperformed. Sure, the acquisitions of Milton Bradley, Chone Figgins, and the re-signing of Ken Griffey, Jr. didn’t inspire visions of winning the world series, but trading three mediocre prospects for Cliff Lee certainly enthused the fan base. The Lee trade was essentially what launched “believe big” marketing campaign, and for good reason. Let’s take a look at the big acquisitions for 2010′s team, and compare their 2009 and 2010 WAR. 2009 WAR is first, with 2010 WAR in parenthesis.
Casey Kotchman: 1.0 (-1.1)
Chone Figgins: 6.1 (0.6)
Milton Bradley: 1.1 (-0.1) [Was worth 4.6 WAR in 2008]
Cliff Lee: 6.6 (7.1–traded mid-season)
Pretty atrocious. It’s hard to really criticize Zduriencik for not predicting that the position players he acquired would severely underperform relative even to just the season before. It would have been foolish to expect Kotchman to become better than in 2009, however, it is equally foolish to believe that he would become perhaps the MLB’s worst regular player just a year later. While Figgins was not going to produce 6 WAR again, it would have been ridiculous to expect him to fall that far off the cliff. Bradley’s 1.1 WAR in 2009 could partially be explained by injuries, and while durability is a skill, Bradley still was a decent hitter in 2009. To have expected him to be a negative value player in 2010 would have been absurd as well. Cliff Lee being traded was largely necessary because of the underperforamnce of those three players.
It’s not just the new acquisitions that underperformed, though. Let’s take a look at some returning players from 2009′s squad.
Ken Griffey, Jr.: 0.3 (-0.8)
Jose Lopez: 2.6 (0.7)
Franklin Gutierrez: 6.1 (2.3)
Jack Wilson: 2.0 (0.0)
Rob Johnson: 0.8 (0.4)
Again, it’s hard to imagine all of these players would have fallen this far off of the map. While it could have been seen that Junior may fall off a cliff due to his age, he wasn’t really being counted on to be a great hitter. Regardless, -0.8 WAR in just 33 games is worse than most would have expected. Lopez wasn’t going to hit 25 homers again, but losing almost 2 WAR in value while entering his physical prime could not have been predicted. Gutierrez’s fall, while disappointing, was a bit more predictable, but he was still a valuable player.
This group of players (not counting Lee, since he was traded, and I don’t have his Mariner-only WAR numbers) was worth 20 wins in 2009. These same players were worth 2 WAR in 2010. These players’ production fell 18 wins in just one season, with only one of them, Griffey, really being a candidate for precipitous decline. If anyone can rationally explain to me how a general manager could predict that, well, I’d love to hear it.
When looking at the current roster, rich in young developing talent, and the minor league system, which is far deeper than it ever was in the Bavasi era, it’s hard for me not to give Zduriencik a total free pass on 2010. With neutral luck, Zduriencik’s team should perform markedly better in 2011, and hopefully end speculation that his job is in danger.